Kurdish Kickboxing Fighters Feel Ignored
|March 18, 2013||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
Sports officials accused of favoritism and lack of interest shown in other sports practiced regionally
Despite several record holders, Kurdistan’s superb kickboxing athletes and the sport itself are not as supported as other popular sports
In a world and a country long obsessed by football, kickboxing game is seeking its share of recognition in the local world of sports. Though many people in Kurdistan think there is no sport other than football, a tremendous number of people are fond of martial arts, especially kickboxing.
Many people think that football is the only sport practiced in Kurdistan, while Kickboxing is about to reach its peak, with many shortages in terms of equipment, halls, and other necessary items. The players and coaches of the game believe this is because sports officials in Kurdistan Region mostly care about the popular sports, unaware of a lot of kickboxing players who have won many gold and silver medals.
Ali Qaradaghi from Suleimaniyah started playing kickboxing when he was a little kid. He has done well in local and international tournaments. He competes for the Newroz Sports Club, Kurdistan and for the Iraqi national team. He is currently the top kickboxing fighter in Iraq.
“I have obtained many medals and have gained very good results in the domestic and international contributions, but unfortunately nobody has paid attention to me. Nobody even from the Kurdistan Olympic Committee has ever congratulated me for the good results I achieved. I am not sure if they know who I am and what type of sport I practice,” said Qardaghi.
Qardaghi has been the top player in Iraq for the last three years. In the Iraqi Super Qualifying Kickboxing Championship, which ran two weeks ago in Baghdad, he was selected as the best kickboxing fighter in Iraq after showing an outstanding performance level.
“If I was a footballer I am sure I would have been treated differently,” noted Qaradaghi. Although Kurdistan has many excellent bodybuilders at different levels, including juniors, youth and seniors, the sport is mostly ignored and Saman Sadeeq, Newroz Kickboxing team coach, says this causes problems for the athletes. He hopes the situation changes soon.
“We need better and bigger halls for our athletes to train in. It is sad to see many good athletes in Kurdistan with no standard halls. Someone like Ali Qaradaghi should be paid better attention by government and sports officials,” said Sadeeq.
Sadeeq believes Kurdistan Olympic Committee (KOC) needs to put an end to the status quo issues that kickboxing athletes are suffering from by responding to their needs.
Salah Muhammad, KOC deputy president explained “It is not our responsibility to solve the shortage of halls and lack of training equipments for the kickboxing athletes. All the clubs have an annual budget which can be used for any purposes.”
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) annually allocates some money for sports infrastructure and the Ministry of Culture and Youths has authority as to how to spend the money. “Our job is to observe the works and activities of the sports associations. The question of building halls and providing athletes with training tools should be addressed to Sports Department at the Culture and Youths Ministry,” Disclosed Muhammad.
There are certain halls built for practicing single games and are run by Sports Departments in any provinces. Jamal Ali, Suleimaniya Sports Department Head, said “We can let any coaches, who have training certificates, train their athletes in the halls. But I have no answer for why the clubs don’t have their own halls.?
In fact, moves are being made in Kurdistan to push Kurdish Kickboxing further to the forefront of sports. The Kurdistan Kickboxing Federation might be just a few years old, but they are learning from the outside world how to keep up with the changes in martial arts.
Due to having many good Kickboxing athletes in Kurdistan, Kurdistan Kickboxing Association (KKA) was officially announced as the new member of World Kickboxing Association (WKA) on October 15 in a press conference held in Erbil city’s Blue Sports Centre. The announcement came after a two-day strengthening course ran for the kickboxing coaches and referees at international level. The course was arranged by KKA in cooperation with Kurdistan Olympic Committee (KOC) and in coordination with WKA and Asian Kickboxing Association (AKA). The World Kickboxing Association is one of the oldest and the largest amateur and professional sanctioning organizations of kickboxing in the world for the sport. Its official name is “World Kickboxing and Karate Association.” Its headquarters are based in Karlsruhe, Germany as well as having an office in Birmingham, England. The Association has prospered throughout Europe and North America.
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