Mandurah MMA coach puts spotlight on youth mental health issues

Anthony Drilich, Marcus McKeever and Michael Letizia.
Anthony Drilich, Marcus McKeever and Michael Letizia.

A MANDURAH MMA coach is aiming to bring free sessions to struggling young people in Pinjarra.

Next Generation MMA Mandurah head coach Marcus McKeever said people talking about the youth mental health crisis motivated him to do something about it.

“I was approached by a lady out there see what we can offer,” he said.

“We’ll be targeting at risk children aged 12 to 18.”

Mr McKeever believes in the healthy body, healthy mind mantra.

His belief has been backed up by numerous studies published in psychology journals.

“MMA teaches discipline – mental and physical,” he said.

“We don’t give medals for showing up, they’re held accountable.

“Kids are a lot less angry when they leave here.”

Mr McKeever said kids learn to trust the people they train with which makes them more willing to talk about their problems.

But he also believes MMA builds up confidence.

“They learn they aren’t the top of the food chain,” he said.

“But it teaches them to fight through their problems and work for what they want.

“You can spot a fighter a mile away, they walk with confidence and they talk with confidence.”

Michael Letizia (16) is a gold medal winning BJJ fighter who trains at Next Generation.

“You’re not going to get in trouble here,” he said.

“It keeps your mind off stuff. I’m focused on a goal here.”

Michael reckons before he began training he wanted to leave school.

He now travels the world through BJJ and has plans to complete further study after school.

Next Generation currently has a GoFundMe page to fundraise for the Pinjarra program.

Mr McKeever will also have his chest waxed on June 3.

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