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A Not-For-Profit Martial Arts and Olympic Sports Initiative

Author Archives: Michael Dahdal

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Marcos Oliveira gets behind Palestine MMA

Brazilian Mixed Martial Artist Marcos Oliveria was quick to accept the challenge to get behind Palestine MMA. Marcos is formerly of American Top Team in the United States and holds national and international titles in various sports including, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and Boxing. He is currently a black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

‘Palestine MMA is a fantastic project and I will use all my knowledge, experience and networks to help support the development of sport in Palestine” said Oliveira. “The Olympic movement is a great movement that promotes universal values of excellence, friendship and respect, so I am interested in supporting the development of Palestinian athletes, it starts with just one successful athlete to inspire a nation” he added.

Oliveira’s real passion is working with children, coaching and teaching his students the values and essential skills to help them through life. He has spent the last three years working in the Abu Dhabi government school system teaching children Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whilst still competing as a professional fighter. He is currently working on establishing programs in his native town of Santa Cruz, Brazil. His vision is to educate and empower children using sports with great Olympic traditions, such as, Wrestling, Judo and Boxing.

Palestine MMA is proud of its association with Marcos Oliveira and looks forward to working him and his international network of professionals to support the development of Palestinian sport and athletes.

 

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A New Year a New Beginning: 2014 Progress Report

Palestine MMA is looking ahead to a positive 2014 as we push forward with our efforts to establish a program that works to support the aspirations of Palestinian children regardless of their background or ability. Our aim has always been to establish something that is both empowering and sustainable – as such, we continue to work hard to establish the foundations to ensure continued success for many years to come.

 

There were highlights and challenges in 2013

 

The highlight was definitely the generosity shown by so many wonderful people around the world that donated what they could towards ensuring we can acquire a boxing ring, to help our athletes better prepare for international competitions. The overwhelming support saw us raise nearly $7000 USD and those funds are still being held in trust as we work out the logistics of purchasing the ring and actually getting it to the West Bank. We hope to make significant progress on that front in the first half of 2014.

 

The challenges however remain. The costs of acquiring a gym in the Ramallah district still seem out of reach. In one respect we are glad to see some economic development in Ramallah, but on the other hand, the increase in prices (given the economic realities) and the concentration of wealth to a privileged minority still leaves a significant strain on the majority of the population which can not often afford or access basic services, of which access to ongoing recreational opportunities and a spring board to sporting success is one.

 

The political climate and the under development of the sporting sector in general makes the environment to build something sustainable significantly more challenging – we are however hopeful that we can continue to work through the issues and overcome them in time. Our vision has always been to build something of real significance for Palestine and not just run sporting programs like so many other NGO’s –  it is with real conviction that we pursue our vision and we continue to seek creative solutions to unique problems.

 

Development Aid

 

With the Palestinian population increasingly dependent on NGO’s and international aid, our view is to work towards solutions that negate the populations dependence on foreign aid and works towards a climate of greater autonomy and independence. Palestine MMA continues to be driven as a non-profit initiative, but we continue to work towards applying a business model that will continue to ensure its financial sustainability and independence long-term (think YMCA).

 

We understand this takes time and the challenges we face, both from internal and external factors are immense – we are committed however to controlling our own destiny and continuing to work in the best interests of the local population and with the support of our family and friends, we have been able to take significant steps in the right direction.

 

Where are we now?

 

Palestine MMA has been able to support limited programs in the West Bank so far, predominantly in the sport of Boxing. We also sponsored a team to travel to Jordan to participate in the Arab Boxing Championships.

 

Through our Australian international partners, Rise Global and with the support of the Australian government, Palestine MMA was also able to support several individuals in travelling to Australia to part take in an exchange program working at establishing people to people links, enhancing their capacity  and building ongoing cooperation between the Australian and Palestinian populations – we hope that these relationships continue to bear fruit, particularly in the continued exchange of knowledge and ideas.

 

Palestine MMA is still not established in its own gym in the West Bank however. The challenges in establishing this have been immense – issues surrounding resourcing, staffing, political climate, bureaucracy and red tape among other things have hindered progress in this area. We are currently re-examining our general approach and expect to establish a tangible alternative shortly. The focus is still very much on establishing an exclusive facility that can accommodate a whole range of programs and continues to serve our broader vision and mission.

 

The Year Ahead

 

2014 is turning out to be an exciting year for Palestine MMA. We are currently working with Australian design firm Street Fresh Digital Media, who continue to be a strong supporter, providing world class design and marketing services pro-bono. We are currently re-visiting the Palestine MMA branding with a view to providing a more polished look in line with the feedback we have received from our dear friends over the last couple of years. So expect to see some significant changes to our branding and website in the first quarter of 2014.

 

We are also working very hard to establish a training facility and launching broad based community programs, community outreach is still very much at the heart of what we do. We expect this to be the first step in a longer term vision to contribute to all aspects of Palestinian life, through the medium of sport. We are currently pursuing a very specific line of enquiry and we hope to be able announce something significant in the first half of 2014.

 

We would like to thank all our supporters, past and present for the immense patience they have shown us as we continue to embark on this journey. We truly believe that like the arts, sport offers a powerful unifying force that can continue to inspire, education and develop a whole new generation of talented young people.

 

We admit that at times it has been quite disheartening and challenging, but we are eternally grateful for the individual few that have truly gone out of their way in their support of our collective vision – it is their support, inspiration and encouragement that keeps us going.

 

We will leave you with the infamous words of Rocky Balboa “It’s never about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward”

 

Please stay in touch with us, we love hearing from you and we look forward to providing you with more updates as they come to hand.

 

Signing Off

 

  • Michael Dahdal
  • Director
  • PMMA
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Palestinian Boxers Outclassed

Despite a gallant effort, Palestinian boxers get a sharp dose of reality at ‘The Al Baq’aa Club International Championship’, which was held at the Arena Stadium – Sports City, Amman from 26 April – 1 May, 2013.

 

Palestinian boxers were outclassed in every division and according to Palestine MMA Boxing Coach, Nade Jayousi, it has got nothing to do with a difference in talent, but everything to do with lack of preparation. Team Palestine was assembled just weeks before the tournament and received no funding support from the local governing body.

 

Palestine MMA provided a $500 grant to Islam Irshaid and coach Nader Jayousi to assist with their travel expenses, without the grant, both would not have been able to compete, missing an invaluable learning experience

 

Coach Jayousi made a harsh assessment of the technical standard of Palestinian boxers insisting, “Palestinian boxers are way behind the rest of the Arab world, our boxers do not have the experience nor preparation to be able to compete on an even playing field”.  Jayousi suggested that both the Jordanian and Iraqi teams looked dominant – “ You have to understand, the Jordanians conduct regular training camps in Cuba and Kazakhstan and the Iraqi’s get regular experience competing and sparring with world class fighters at international level – we don’t get those opportunities” he added.

 

Jayousi, on his technical assessment of the team’s performance highlighted the realities of what needs to change if Palestine was to become competitive at an international level. Although there is a large contingent of very talented boxers in Palestine, the local infrastructure, expertise and support currently doesn’t exist to support them.

 

Palestine MMA was established for this reason,

 

“I would like to thank Palestine MMA for the grant they provided for both Islam and myself, it really provided us with the opportunity to get some international experience” said Jayousi. “We have now began the review process with Palestine MMA Director, Michael Dahdal, to see what we need to put in place in the next 12-24 months to be more competitive” he added.

 

“Islam and Nader only managed limited preparation for this tournament, since they were only notified a couple of weeks before hand” said Palestine MMA Director, Michael Dahdal. “It really is a whole system that needs to be improved, breakdowns in administration and planning are just as important as the coaching and the athletes preparation”. We have a saying in Sports Development, Dahdal added; “a team is only as good as the organisation behind it – and I think that’s true”.

 

Palestine MMA is currently continuing its work in trying to establish a training facility and programs in the West Bank to support our future athletes, coaches and administrators.

 

Palestine MMA is Non-Profit initiative

 

Championship Results:

 

  • Qualifying Round:           64kg Mohammed Alaa’ Minawi (Od Shabab Nablus Club), Loss Decision
  • Qualifying Round:           69kg Naser AL Sokkari (Od Shabab Nablus Club), Loss TKO
  • Qualifying Round:           75kg Islam Irshaid (Palestine MMA), Loss Decision
  • Qualifying Round:           81kg Sobhi Sokkari (Od Shabab Nablus Club), Loss, Decision
  • Qualifying Round:           91Kg Mahmoud Jaras (No Club), Loss TKO
  • Qualifying Round:           91 Kg + Morad sroor (No Club), Loss TKO

 

*Islam Irsheid was supported by coach Nader Jayousi who was also able to attend the championship with the support PMMA

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Australian-Palestinian Sports Sector Exchange

Rise Global has announced an initiative to deliver an exchange between the Australian and Palestinian sports sectors. The project will provide a unique opportunity for a contingent from the Palestinian sporting community to travel to Australia, with the core objectives being:

  • - To support exchange and people to people links between the Australian and Palestinian sports sectors
  • - To support the development of the Palestinian sports sector and;
  • - To further promote Australia’s sports expertise and its further commitment to development in the region

 

A total of four Palestinians will be selected to travel to Australia in November 2013 on a learning experience that will include formal training, site visits of facilities and infrastructure and meetings with members of the Australian sporting community.

“Sport is an integral part of Australian culture and Australia is renowned for having one of the most sophisticated sports systems in the world” said Michael Dahdal, Managing Director at Rise Global. “This is an opportunity for members of the Palestinian sports community to travel to Australia and experience first-hand some of the elements that go into developing a system that delivers sustained success at all levels, not just in sports, but throughout whole communities” he added.

The delegates will be in a position to apply what they have learned upon their return to the West Bank and the links established will seek to promote ongoing exchanges as the Palestinian people work towards developing a vibrant sports sector of their own. The selection process will commence immediately with the view to announce successful delegates in August 2013.

“The Australian-Palestinian Sports Sector Exchange is made possible in part through support from the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR)”