A little over a year ago, Neshat Mirzaei and her husband Houman Mirzaei opened the Elite Fire Taekwondo school in the city of Raleigh, situated in the state of North Carolina, in the Southeast of the United States. As a wife and husband locally own school, in one year they have already acquired 40 students. Both Neshat and Houman are very passionate about taekwondo and take pride in their accomplishments.
Elite Fire Taekwondo school, compared to many other clubs in the region, does not offer fancy alternatives such as birthday parties, all day camps, after school care and other non-related taekwondo activities. Its goal is to teach taekwondo and help its students develop as athletes, no matter what level they have. Neshat and Houman take their work very seriously and believe that taekwondo is more than just a sport but a way of life. They help their students prepare for competitions and make them work hard during every training session, allowing them to fulfill their potential.
Neshat arrived in the United States as a refugee more than 30 years ago and met Houman in Iran while he was competing in the highest National League. They met through taekwondo and got married 3 years ago. Houman has been practicing taekwondo since the age of 5 and performed Nationally in Iran as a professional taekwondo player. He also has many years’ experience in coaching, having helped many of his students achieve big accomplishments and now being an internationally certified coach. Neshat has been practicing Martial Arts for 16 years, starting with Hapkido and then moved on to taekwondo. Neshat and Houman complement each other well, with Neshat serving as both the manager and marketing director of Elite Fire Taekwondo as well as teaching taekwondo and Houman serving as a Taekwondo Master, coaching students at a very level.
What makes this taekwondo school standout is its ability to cater to people from all backgrounds, being located between upscale and less-fortunate neighborhoods as well as refugee residences. The majority of students practicing the martial art at the Club are immigrants from different cultures. taekwondo has helped bring them together by teaching them important values such as respect and tolerance.
A few months ago, Neshat and Houman initiated a “taekwondo for refugees” program, welcoming refugees into their school and helping them integrate through sport. As a former refugee herself, Neshat has really taken this project to heart and together with her husband, interviewed potential refugee athletes to start training with them. They currently have 3 refugee students, one young boy and two teenage brothers who have been training hard for competitions. They also help out with the running of the academy, not only attending their own training sessions but also assisting during sessions for younger children.
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding for this program, Elite Fire Taekwondo has only been able to take in 3 refugees. Neshat and Houman have been working hard in trying to raise funds by conducting different fundraising activities and searching for International as well as local organizations to support their program. Their work is very honorable and THF believes that all taekwondo clubs should take example by establishing their own Humanitarian Programmes.