A dream came true for Thailand’s Krisana Padsawa (10) and Arithat Nilsarika (11).
Sport Is Your Gang (SIYG) is an initiative founded by the International Federation Muaythai Amateur many years ago. The youth-based initiative functions in corporation with many key humanitarian organisations including Peace and Sport, Generation for Peace and UNESCO.
The objective of SIYG is to support and empower youth from challenging backgrounds and encourage them to participate in exercise and dialogue exchange programs towards a healthier and active lifestyle. SIYG focuses on communities facing economic hardship, increased immigrant populations in urban environments and includes victims of crime and bullying. Many youths find themselves without real opportunities for self-advancement and consequently many of these youths find belonging in street gangs where education suffers through truancy and lack of a stable support system. IFMA advocates the potential of sport understanding how importance of cultivating self-respect and self-belief, and for these children to find a safe and trusted environment amidst adversity.
The SIYG project has been successfully integrated in many IFMA National Federations around the world and has gained the highest respect from the sports community. In 2014, they were awarded the SportAccord “Spirit of Sport Award” for their contribution towards social change. One important part of the initiative is their reward program where children have the opportunity to experience and travel, where they meet children from all walks of life and inspire them. These experiences give the youth a stronger sense of pride and an experience of a lifetime.
In April of this year, Thailand hosted a very successful SportAccord Convention in which the United Through Sports Festival was inaugurated and was for many highlighted by the inclusion of challenged and displaced youth. The legacy of the convention lived on by inspiring so many and the rewards initiative enabled two dedicated children who had never travelled abroad, the experience to board a plane, travel across two continents and join the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. They were a part of the spectacular opening ceremony, they joined the Olympism in Action Forum and performed for over 500 youths from all around Argentina. Krisana and Arithat mingled with the youth elite and met with the leaders in the world of sport.
Ten year old Krisana Padsawa stated “ For me this is a dream, the Olympics is something like heroes. Everyone in Thailand kn
ows Somlak,he is an Olympic champion. When I won the competition and could travel, all my friends hugged me and were happy for me. The airplane was amazing, like in the movies and the opening of the Olympics was a night I will never forget. I was so excited when the Wild Boar team came to watch me perform and we got a chance to share our lives and experiences. I feel now I can achieve anything if I work hard and try my best.”
Currently, these two young children are writing a journal about their Olympic dream which will be published to inspire other children who face similar challenges. This is true Olympic humanity, using the unique power of sport to make dreams come true.