The annual general meeting of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association took place on Saturday the 5th of December 2020 at 3pm and was attended by board members, head coaches and for the first time some individual members.
Chairman Clive Staunton began the meeting by welcoming all involved to the IMMAA AGM and giving a brief introduction to the topics which would be covered during the duration of the meeting.
The first item on the agenda was an update regarding the current Covid-19 guidelines. President John Kavanagh reminded everyone present that the current restrictions state that gyms may open for individual, socially distanced training only but is hopeful that this will change to pods of multiple people in the near future. He also reminded everyone of the importance of proper hygiene and sanitization of all spaces and equipment.
Child Protection Officer Tim Murphy then provided an update on IMMAAs application to Sport Ireland, stating that IMMAAs appeal to join the Irish Martial Arts Commission (IMAC) was rejected on the basis that our international governing body the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) has not yet achieved Sport Accord/GAISF recognition. Tim highlighted the hypocrisy of this as only half of the associations within IMAC have this recognition. This decision was then appealed by IMMAA and the appeal was rejected at the IMAC AGM in October. Tim made it clear that IMMAA have gone back to Sport Ireland and looked for clarification of next steps and that we will continue to fight to become a recognised sport association.
Vice president Andy Ryan then explained about how he, Liam-Og, Deano Wade and Danny Corr have been liaising about introducing the newly implemented national gradings in accordance with the IMMAF grading system. He spoke of the importance of the national squad sessions in preparation for the IMMAF tournaments as a way of bringing the team together as a whole Irish team rather than individual competitors from separate clubs and the plans to run an IMMAA certified level 1 coaching course. He also stated that the only confirmed IMMAA tournament as of yet it the Asian open championship due to take place in Kazakhstan in June 2021 which Irish competitors are eligible to enter and reminded everyone of the importance of ensuring any coaches who would like to be involved with the Irish international MMA team must have received garda vetting clearance through IMMAA and have a valid IMMAA certified coaching qualification.
Chairperson Clive Staunton then gave his annual report where he also announced that he would be stepping down from his position of Chairman. He expressed his appreciation and congratulated the committee members on the vast improvements and progression that has been made in Irish MMA since he began training in the sport 20 years ago in regards to the health and safety of the competitors and the movement away from the unstructured cowboy culture it once was.
Treasurer Liam-Og Griffin then presented the financial statements for 2019 and 2020 which had been circulated to attendees prior to the meeting. He then provided a break down of the income and expenditure reports and explained the reasons behind changes in revenue were mainly due to the introduction of competitors tournament fees passing through the national association account before being paid directly to the international federation and the addition of wages to procure an administrator, a position which was sponsored by IMMAF. He also mentioned that all club memberships were paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the usual flow of income whereas the outgoing insurance payments remained the same which has caused a lower amount on incoming revenue than expected for 2020. He then requested that all coaches would support the introduction of the individual IMMAA memberships and encourage their members to avail of the individual membership cards.
Chairperson Clive Staunton then asked attendees to announce nominations of personnel to the committee to which Tim Murphy then nominated K-Fit head coach Kevin Moran to the committee to which no objections were made. He then opened the floor to any other matters which members would like to address. Administrator Aisling O’ Connor then reminded everyone present that the IMMAA individual memberships are currently reduced to half price at 15 euro per membership until December 31st and asked that coaches would communicate this to their members in order to avail of the discounted price.
President John Kavanagh thanked Clive for his hard work and contributions on behalf of the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association. Vice-President Andy Ryan then reinstated the importance of all coaches and clubs supporting the Irish team as a whole and ensuring that all hopeful candidates for the Irish squad are participating in all IMMAA events and squad sessions. He also mentioned that the Irish team has gained tremendous respect from IMMAF and many other participating countries through our high safety standards and the success of our international athletes, cutsmen, coaches, referees and judges and we must uphold our reputation by continuing to provide a high level of professionalism, which will reflect favourably in our application to Sport Ireland.
Ulster Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association Danny Corr joined in to say that their association have lodged an application to Sport NI and have gained the support of a local minister who is fully supportive of gaining formal recognition for MMA and Danny and his UAMMA affiliated gyms plan to join IMMAA in order to create one whole united Irish team and association governing both the North and the Republic of Ireland. He also mentioned that he is hoping to launch his educational youth MMA programme in the republic in the near future.
Tim Murphy then added that the success of the Irish athletes at an international level has gone a long way towards improving the reputation of the sport as a legitimate elite amateur sport and his helping to move the public’s perception of the sport away from the professional image.
Clarifying the changes being made to the roles within the committee Clive announced that Tim Murphy would be filling the role of Chairman and Kevin Moran would replace Tim Murphy as Child Protection Officer stating that he believes the changes to the committee will be a very positive move for the association as it will bring fresh new ideas and a fresh injection of energy to the board.
Clive then provided the opportunity for attendees to ask questions or provide ideas and feedback to which individual IMMAA member Sean Wallace spoke up to say that he believes the association should work to promote the individual IMMAA memberships to a higher extent as higher membership numbers will make government officials more likely to support the formal recognition of MMA in the future. He also made the point that the individual memberships are not exclusive to international athletes and should be purchased by anyone wishing to support the sport, regardless of whether they compete in MMA or not.
Clive commenced the closing of the meeting by commending everyone present on the great work made by each person involved in the committee and sport despite the difficulties this year has provided us with and expressed that he is hopeful that these efforts will inevitably prove fruitful and MMA will one day become an officially recognised and funded sport in Ireland.