For the second time this year (2021), martial arts instructor and coach, Neville Wray, organised a successful Zoom event in aid of WellChild, a charity which enables children and young people with exceptional health needs to be cared for at home instead of in hospital, wherever possible. This has been particularly important in these days of COVID-19 to provide such people and their families with better protection as well as that essential home comfort.
Many of WellChild’s core programmes have continued during the pandemic. Across the country, WellChild Nurses have adapted their services to support the thousands of families who rely on them (including supporting children and young people with Wolfram Syndrome) as well as training hundreds of people in medical care and delivering practical and life-changing home and garden transformations
Article written by Andrea Arnold.
The event was held over two consecutive Sundays at the end of April, when the country was still deep in lockdown, and included multiple age categories for shadow sparring, kicking drills, footwork and blitzing. All the money raised from the registration fees and the kindness of the participants and spectators was donated to WellChild and Neville was able to add to their funds with a cheque totaling £915.00. Melanie Parker, Challenge Events Manager at WellChild sent a message to everyone participating:
‘A huge thank you and well done from all of us, for taking part in the CIMAC Virtual Kickboxing Tournament and for your kind support in raising funds for WellChild… Support and donations such as yours are greatly appreciated and will make a real difference to seriously ill children and families we care for throughout the UK – you can read about some of the children WellChild support by visiting: www.wellchild.org.uk/family-stories
Our WellChild Children’s Nurses across the UK are now providing much needed help for families who have a chronically sick child living at home. The practical and emotional support that a nurse can offer is a lifeline for families struggling to look after a seriously-ill child, providing vital help and welcome relief at a difficult time… thank you all once again for your fantastic support.’ The Cimac Superleague Virtual Kickboxing tournament was an open event that attracted competitors from Greece, Ireland and Italy, as well as the UK, which helped to make it a quality tournament with excitement in bucket loads.
With stalwart support from Sean Veira, (WAKO GB coach, former world champion) and Sharon Gill M.B.E. (WAKO GB coach, current world champion), along with a massive team of international volunteer referees, commentators and backroom staff, the technology was tested in a practice run, ironing out any potential glitches and all was made ready to rumble on the day. As the competitors were based in different countries, in different time zones, the timing had to be perfect.
The event took place over two consecutive Sundays, the finalists progressing to the second Sunday. The standard was massively high making the judging difficult and resulting in many split decisions. Considering the long lockdown it was astonishing to see the fitness levels and the sharpness of the contestants' techniques maintained to this standard. Everyone had upped their performances from the ‘Young Minds’ February event and they were determined to put on the best show ever.
The lively, informative commentary headed by Sean Veira and Peter Edwards (President of WAKO GB) with friends and invited guests made for some entertaining discussions, as well as holding an impromptu fun competition between an Irish and a UK judge, to see who still had the most skills and fitness, filling in some time when there was a gap in proceedings. I have to report that neither of them were as impressive as the actual competitors.
Once again many amazing people gave their expertise and time behind the scenes, giving their support to make this very special charity event happen, and of course none of this could have happened without the incredible support of the participants, their parents, their families and their friends. Linda Baxter did a great job at keeping the proceedings running to time, with great backup from Eizabeth Ferioli-Brown in the green room. It was amazing that there were hardly any moments when the technology failed and credit must be given to the participants and families for their careful setting up of electronic equipment in living rooms, bedrooms, garages, balconies, gardens, patios and workspaces. Well done to all!
It is looking more hopeful now for a return to tournaments in the real world sometime in the autumn of 2021 with an actual Cimac Superleague Tournament scheduled for the 31st October, but the virtual kickboxing tournaments have been a lot of fun, raising funds for good causes, and motivating children and adults to stay on top of their chosen sport, which is good for their mental and physical health as well.
Last but not least, there was exciting news about the sport of kickboxing in future Olympic events from WAKO: On the 10th June 2021 the IOC Executive Board gave WAKO full support in recommending it as a fully recognised sport which was confirmed on 20th July at the IOC session in Tokyo – Wow! How good is that?
Judges over the two days were as follows:
UK: Geoff Aldridge, Nesta Baxter, Billy Bryce, Jacey Cashman, Chris Collymore, Gurjit Gallon, Sean McCarthy, Gemma Upfold
Ireland: Ilija Salerno, Elaine Small
Greece: Kikos Memmos, Eleftheria Panagopoulou
USA: Kevin Brewerton
Linda and Nigel Baxter, Elizabeth Ferioli-Brown, Sharon Gill, Sean Veira, Ian Watkins (Sportdata), Neville Wray
Competitors with these instructors in Europe:
Nikos Memmos Greece, Domenico De Marco Italy, Ilija Salerno Ireland, Elaine Small Ireland
Nikos Memmos wrote ‘After a long time of inaction, Ikaros team received participation in the International charity tournament, CIMAC Virtual Charity Event with 12 athletes…
Congratulations all our athletes deserve for participating in this charity tournament. Congratulations to the other Greek athletes from other clubs who supported this important effort, but also to organizers who took such an important initiative and performed it in the best way.’
Domenico De Marco commented ‘thanks to Andrea Ongaro and Nev Wray for daring this time and giving everyone a great message of positivity.’