Breaking Boundaries with Nana Kwame Ankomah and Muhammad Mailk TKO Boxing Barking and Dagenham
Breaking Boundaries is a three-year programme (2018 –2021) funded by Spirit of 2012, supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and The Institute of Community Cohesion (Icoco).
How did you become a part of Breaking Boundaries?
Saj who supports TKO by sourcing activities we can be involved with had a number of meetings with the Breaking Boundaries team and then via our Boxing coach we were offered a chance to join the programme this year.
What attracted you to becoming a Community Champion?
Nana has been working regularly with young people at TKO Boxing and feels Breaking Boundaries can support how he can be a better role model. Nana also generally has a very positive approach to life and is well known for having a smile on his face in all he does and being asked to by TKO to be a part of this project is an honour for him.
Muhammad is inspired by Nana and wanted to be a part of the programme too, to equally be a role model to young people. Muhammed also loves keeping fit and healthy and believes sport and physical activity can bring people together and has lots of ideas on how to make this happen via TKO Boxing.
What would you say are the best things you've learnt through your training?
As TKO joined the programme in January 2020, we missed the City Champions training event which would have allowed us to be with everyone from the start – but we have been part of the recent cohesion and faith training events, and really enjoyed the Future Youth Zone faith workshop in early March 2020.
We had a chance to talk about our own faith and how it links to our personal drive to help others by making positive lifestyle choices in and out of our sport.
Tell us about the Community event you are planning?
We are hoping to deliver a cricket themed event at a park, which provides us lots of open space – as we know that boxing has also been a part of cricket at elite level to get players super fit! We are working out a way to have some of this also involved in our group activity.
The main thing is we want to show the groups we aim to work with TKO is about community first, and we are always willing to try new activities to help tell everyone this message.
How does your event bring people together from different backgrounds in your community?
As boxers, we are taught to use our sport as a way to make our lives better, gaining success by hard work and also being open to learn from others who we train with, regardless of background.
We feel this is a way we can share no matter what the sport, and cricket is a great test for us to see how we can also work with people who we may not normally mix with.
How important is it for young people like yourself to be involved in the community and why?
As young people, we see a lot each day that frustrates us, be it feeling unsafe, needing things to do, finding jobs eventually and so on. This kind of project can let us send a positive message that not all young people are in trouble, and we want to also help others as much as ourselves to enjoy life.
What difference do you hope to make in your local community?
Young people already have quite a tough time in the Borough, and both the champions wished to use this opportunity to give something back in new ways.
We are excited about being part of the delivery team when TKO hosts its first ever cricket event later this year. We feel this could be the start of an exciting opportunity for the organisation to develop new leadership training pathways for more City Champions in the future.
What has been your most inspirational moment in Breaking Boundaries?
The most recent faith training event in March – it really made us see how many different cultures exist around us, and how many things we have in common!
If you had to describe your experience of Breaking Boundaries in three sentences what would you say?
Educational – sport is showing us more than just the activity – we are learning leadership skills .
Our faith has a place in sport.
The team running the project are positive and open to ideas.
During this period of lockdown do you have any advice you would like to share on how to stay connected to other people and keep active/fit/well?
Keep smiling, this will all be a memory to talk about and learn from one day.
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