- Fencing is the most ancient sport in the world, tracking from 1190 B.C.
- Sport of the Olympiad since inception from 1896.
- Part of the Commonwealth and Asian Games from 1950 and 1978 respectively.
- International Fencing Federation (FIE) founded in 1914 (presently with 115 members) and the Asian Fencing Confederation and Commonwealth Fencing Federation formed later.
- Indian Association was founded in 1974, recognized by Government in 1997 and affiliated to the Indian Olympic Association, Asian Fencing Confederation, Commonwealth Fencing Federation and Federation International D’Escrime (FIE).
- There are six individual and six team events in three different weapons used in Fencing – Epee, Foil and Sabre.
- The total number of medals is 48, next only to Aquatics and Athletics.
- Sports Authority of India adopted this game under its “Special Area Games Scheme” from 1989 to 1996.
- One German and two Russian coaches were brought by Sports Authority of India to reinforce the SAG Scheme.
- During this period the trainees had participated in the World Junior & Cadet Championship in 1995 and the senior team participated in training-
cum- competition at Belarus and also in an International meet at Tehran in 1996, where they secured a bronze medal in each tournament.
- Owing to intensive training in the SAG Scheme, all trainees became National champions in their respective events, later.
- With the closure of the SAG Scheme by SAI in 1996, the game became dormant.
- The Association had been holding National competitions in Sub-
Junior (1999), Cadet (2004), Junior (1992) and Senior (1986) categories, both for boys/men and girls/women.
- Had also participated in a few international events, approved by the Government in the recent past.
- Prior to participation in international events, the Association with the assistance of SAI had been conducting the National Coaching Camp of a limited duration at different venues.
- Streamlined the functioning of the affiliated units and regulated the pattern and conduct of competition in National Championships.
- Established an office in J.N. Stadium, New Delhi, for secretarial work.
- Created a website for the benefit of the sports lovers.
- Started Diploma and Certificate Courses with the assistance of NS NIS Patiala.
- Conducted IOC Solidarity Course once in 1996 (Bangalore) and 2003 (Patiala).
- Complied with all requirements of the IOA and SAI.
- Obtained the services of foreign coach, for a period of ten months each, in 2002 and 2004 to impart training to National teams and advise SAI on improvements to be effected.
- Despite lack of equipment, infrastructure and sustained and proper training, the National ranking fencers who had participated in international competitions in the recent past, have had modest performance. Notwithstanding constraint of funds and lack of effective long term training and non-
availability of competent and qualified coaches of international calibre and lack of international exposure, the juniors and seniors who had participated in international events are gradually ascending the ranking position, both in international and regional events.
- The highlights are – the National Junior team both men and women secured 5thplace in Foil event and one of the members secured 6thplace in individual event on their maiden appearance in the Asian Championship. Similarly, in the Commonwealth Championship the Indian team secured 7thplace on their debut. At the World level the juniors and senior participants are gradually improving their ranking position in the world competition, despite many constraints.
- The Foreign coach who was here on a short spell of two different occasions has prophesized that Indian fencers could do extremely well in international competitions, subject to their sustained training and concerted efforts on a continuous basis over a period of time, keeping in view their inherent talent and physiological attributes.
- A copy of the coaching-
cum- competition calendar is attached(Appendix 1). This may please be approved in principle, but it is subject to modification in consultation with the foreign expert.
- Fencing equipment consist of 42 items and none is manufactured in India. Hence all have to be imported.
- None of the SAI’s regional centres, where coaching could be imparted, have the necessary equipment. Hence Association has to borrow time and again from State units for the purpose.
- Fencers too find it difficult to possess their personal equipment due to cost factor.
- In international competitions the participants could use only FIE approved equipment for competition.
- The life of such equipment is only five years.
- Like Athletic track or Hockey pitch, Fencing requires aluminium or metallic piste (platform) on which training and competition is conducted in an indoor hall.
- Apparatus (scoring machine) is also required for each piste during coaching as well as competition to record the scores of the participants, electronically.
- The base is preferably required to be wooden flooring, failing which the piste has to be spread over and fixed on a rubber mat, which is required.
- The Association had for the first time imported a limited number of fencing equipment under the MYAS’ subsidized scheme, covering all the prescribed items, to meet the basic requirements of the State Associations affiliated to the FAI and for conduct of National competitions.
- Similarly, the Association has approached MYAS in April, 2004, for import of approved equipment to equip the fencers to facilitate their participation in international tournaments.Formal approval is still awaited.
- The Association had been pursuing vigorously the matter relating to import of equipment by SAIsince 2000, but till date this has not materialized, despite the matter having been discussed in a number of forums, including the LTDP held in the past
- According to the Government guidelines equipment assistance will be required to be provided by the SAI for National camps and the equipment will be owned and maintained by SAI (para 8.2 refers).
- Consequently proper and effective training could not be imparted so far !
- This is another major factor, which is affecting the progress of the game.
- There is no coach of international repute and competence with updated knowledge and technique, available in India. Hence necessity arises for obtaining the services of a foreign coach.
- Since there are three distinct events in Fencing – Epee, Foil and Sabre – we require the services of a minimum of three coaches, who possess proficiency in these events, individually. If not, we do require at least two coaches – one to impart training in Foil and Epee and the other for Sabre, which are totally distinct and independent events.
- FAI had projected in their LTDP plan justifying the necessity for obtaining the services of a foreign coach for a period of at least four years at a stretch, right from 1998, but this is yet to materialize.
- Sporadic attempts to get the services of foreign coach intermittently have resulted in ‘negative’ development of the game.
- The services of foreign coach will be fully utilised not only for training the National teams to participate in international events, but also attend to academic courses, conduct refresher course for NIS Diploma holders, to update and upgrade their skill and technique, conduct training for technical officials viz. Referees/Judges etc. to facilitate their obtaining A and B category licenses, prescribed by the FIE for officiating in international competitions and spotting out talent etc.
4.3.1Duration of coaching camp
- In the coaching camp for seniors we require at least 6 players in each event (Foil, Epee and Sabre) and section viz. men and women, so that we could finally select a team consisting of 4 players each, per event and section. Hence the total number of players to attend the camp will work out to 36 players in total (6 players men x 3 events plus 6 players women x 3 events). It will, therefore, be appreciated that there should be at least 36 players in the first phase of the coaching camp, which will get reduced to 24 in the final phase of the camp and restricted to the selected players for competition in international events.
4.4Clinic for Technical Officials:
- It is obligatory for participating Nation to depute a minimum of two qualified A or B category officials to accompany the National team for participation in international events, failing which they have to pay a penalty of US $500 per head to the organizers.
- On a proposal made by the FAI earlier the SAI had agreed to extend necessary assistance for holding a clinic and had desired that FAI may invite an Expert from the International Fencing Federation (LTDP-
7.3.2003, para 6 refers). FIE have since agreed to provide an Expert for the purpose who has to be provided free local hospitality and transport and paid out of pocket allowance as prescribed by them. The trainees will have to be provided subsidized hospitality.
- FIE will be conducting an international examination for Referees in ‘Sabre’ event in conjunction with the Asian Senior Championship on the 23rdand 24thJuly, 2005, at Sabah (Malaysia) and in ‘Foil’ and ‘Epee’ events at Doha (Qatar) in September, 2005. FAI would like to depute competent officials to appear in these examinations.
- SAI/MYAS are requested to give necessary support and assistance, as covered under the guidelines by granting at least air passage to such officials, while the cost of local hospitality will be borne by the FAI (paras 11.8 (v) and 12.1 (j) of the guidelines refer).
- Unlike other games and despite constant efforts made by the FAI no specified nominated infrastructure has been identified and provided exclusively for training of fencers in any of the SAI regional centers.
- Consequently the National camps are toyed from place to place, causing inexplicable difficulties in arranging provision of equipment, their placement and operation.
- SAI are therefore requested to consider holding of National coaching camp at an identified nominated place where necessary infrastructure and equipment facilities are available viz. an indoor hall, Fencing piste and scoring machine apart from accommodation for the players both men and women and the National coaches. In this context it may be specifically mentioned that it is difficult to transport the Fencing piste and scoring machine etc. from place to place, as it may get worn out on transportation, relaying etc. and may finally become redundant.
- NS NIS Patiala started the Diploma Course in Fencing and has so far conducted five Course, passing out 30 coaches, almost all of them from northern region.
- Hence FAI had requested shifting of the Diploma Course to the Southern Regional Centre at Bangalore in early 2004 and it was agreed to at the LTDP Meeting held in March, 2004, under the Chairmanship of Director General, SAI, to shift the Course from Patiala to Bangalore from the then academic session viz. 2004-
- Despite this decision and follow up action taken by the Association with a number of communications and representation received from all the Southern States, the Diploma Course has not been shifted, contrary to decision taken for no specific and valid reasons.
- Expecting that the Diploma Course will be conducted in SAI Centre, Bangalore, the State Associations affiliated to the FAI in the Southern region had lined up a number of ex-
international and National level fencers to undergo the Diploma Course, but to their dismay this has not materialized so far.
4.7Coaches training abroad
- The NS NIS have had five Diploma Courses in Fencing during the last few years. The present number of such successful Diploma holders is 30. Most of the Coaches are unemployed or underemployed, barring a few whose services have been utilised by State Governments.
- With a view to giving practical experience, acquiring expertise and providing exposure to qualified Coaches, certain selected Coaches, who have the flair for coaching, were nominated by the FENCING ASSOCIATION OF INDIA to conduct National coaching camps, as and when held, prior to the teams participation in international events. They were also nominated to accompany the National teams that participate in international events. They also assisted the foreign coach in conducting the National camps. All these gave them only a limited domestic experience.
- It may be appreciated that such of the coaches, who come from abroad, are basically international ranking fencers with creditable achievement, undergo a long term coaching-
training in Fencing, lasting over 3 to 4 years, and also undertake assignments abroad to coach National teams. All these and more give them adequate experience and acquire a lot of expertise in the process.
- Similarly, if our coaches are to attain international standard and acquire a great deal of experience in training National teams, at least a selected few Coaches should be deputed to undergo short term coaching/training Courses conducted in reputed institutes abroad. On return they should be attached to the National teams that undergo coaching camps as well as accompany the National teams, as their coaches.
- It is, therefore, recommended, that SAI with the approval of the MYAS formulate a regular scheme to depute the selected coaches, game-
wise, abroad to undergo training in reputed institutes and meet the expenditure thereon. Sporadic attempt in this matter will not produce result. A constant and conscious effort should be made to depute the selected coaches over a period of time to undergo training abroad and ensure that their services are utilized for the National camps etc.
- Under the existing revised guidelines for assistance to National Sports Associations framed by the MYAS, it is provided that necessary support and assistance for training of coaches abroad will be given. SAI is requested to recommend the proposal of the FAI in this regard to MYAS for their support and assistance.
- FENCING ASSOCIATION OF INDIA had already sent a proposal earlier on the matter but no decision appears to have been taken on this proposal. We may be apprised of the position.
- In response to Sports Authority of India’s letter on the subject, we had already forwarded the name and bio-
data of the National coach, who is presently working as a Fencing Coach on contract basis at NS NIS Patiala conducting the academic course. He has acquired sufficient experience and expertise in the field of coaching/training of National teams etc.
- In the LTDP meeting held on 7thMarch, 2003, it was confirmed by SAI that the bio-
data of the coach had been received and the matter would be referred to the Selection Committee for its consideration. However, despite lapse of over two years FAI have not received any confirmation in this respect.This may kindly be expedited.
- It may be emphasized that the nomination of a National Coach is absolutely required for utilizing the services as a consultant to the National Association in the formalization and execution of training programmers etc. the absence of which is greatly being felt by the FAI.
4.9Hosting of international event
- During the last few years, with the active role being played by the Association and National teams participating in international events with creditable performance etc., have perhaps prompted the International and Regional Fencing Federations to request the FAI to host regional and international tournaments in Fencing. Organization of such international meets etc. will immensely benefit the FAI, will give an impetus to the game in the country, adequate exposure to the host team, acquire popularity of the game, test our organizational ability and give an opportunity to visiting teams to see our country etc.
- In this context we would like to inform you that the Commonwealth Fencing Federation have allotted the inaugural Commonwealth Junior Championship to India to be hosted in January, 2006. The Commonwealth Fencing Federation have also expressed their desire that the game of Fencing should form part of the Commonwealth Games proposed to be hosted by India in 2010. Similarly, the Asian Fencing Confederation have offered to the FAI to host the Asian Championship. The International Fencing Federation (FIE) have also time and again proposed to the FAI to host international open tournaments with a view to popularising the game in our country.
- All these have far reaching implications which will be required to be examined in detail. FAI will solicit the assistance and cooperation of SAI and MYAS in all such ventures to uphold the prestige of the country and upgrade the game in India to international level.
4.10Training Centre at Delhi
- It is a pity that the game of Fencing, in spite of its historical importance, efforts being made by the FAI, National teams participating in international tournaments with SAI/MYAS assistance etc., the game of Fencing has no specific identified nominated place for training purposes at any of the SAI Regional Centers, despite repeated requests in this regard. It should be appreciated that like any other discipline, whether Athletics, Swimming, Hockey, Judo or Gymnastics, for which SAI have provided a nominated place for training, Fencing is yet to find a place with vast infrastructure facilities available at SAI Centers.
- As a result the conduct of National camps gets disturbed time and again and the camps are tossed between places.
- The Foreign Coach has adversely commented on this aspect, on lack of appropriate training facilities for Fencing.
- In the circumstances, a specific indoor hall is absolutely necessary for this game too, as the metallic/aluminum piste on which the game is practiced and competed has to be placed and fixed on the floor with facilities for keeping securely the Fencing weapons, scoring machines etc. which are essential ingredients of the game, besides change rooms required for the players.
- Since it is a very popular international sports discipline, particularly in the European continent and gradually emerging as a popular sport in the Asian region as well, the FAI receive a large number of requests from diplomatic missions, multi-
national corporates and local educational institutions etc. regarding the training facilities available in Delhi to pursue and practice this game but we have to disappoint them all, due to lack of necessary infrastructure and facilities.
- FAI had sent a lot of communications on the subject requesting the SAI to provide a permanent training centre, where the local boys and girls could come and practice under the supervision and guidance of a coach. On the last occasion, when the foreign coach was in India, he had also identified a suitable place for the purpose at I.G. Stadium, New Delhi. The facilities required to be made have also been spelt out by him. Despite all this, the FAI are yet to receive a confirmation in regard to:-
- SAI are earnestly requested to expedite finalisation of this vital matter.
4.11Appointment of Coaches in Regional Centres
- With the provision of expected facilities to be provided by SAI at Regional Centres and impending procurement of equipment, SAI are requested to acquire the services of at least one coach at each Regional Centre from the list of qualified Diploma holders to train the youngsters under the ‘play and pay’ scheme etc. This will encourage spreading of the game to schools and colleges, particularly when the School Games Federation of India and the Inter-
University Sports Board have adopted this game for competition purpose at the regional and National levels. Presently, we have 30 qualified diploma holders passed out from NS NIS Patiala, a list of which is attached.(Appendix 2).
4.12Role of Project Officer
- It is noted that the Teams Wing have a number of Project Officers who have been entrusted with the secretarial work relating to various sports disciplines. Of course, ED(Teams) does require assistance of such officials in examining the proposals received from different National Sports Federations and processing them, besides maintaining liaison with such National Sports Associations. However, it is observed that the:-
- In the circumstances, we would request SAI to streamline the functioning of the Project Officers in the overall interest of the sports administration and progress of sports.
- MYAS/SAI approves of all proposals for participation in international meets and/or National coaching camps and all the relevant data are furnished by NSFs to them. Besides, periodical reports are also sent to them with all relevant documents. Despite all this efforts made by NSFs, MYAS/SAI invariably seek information as and when urgently needed by them, which causes inconvenience and upsets the rhythm of work in NSFs. Hence, it is requested that all the data being furnished by NSFs be collated and maintained and updated from time to time in a computerized form, which will act as a ‘ready-
reckoner’ and help and guide the SAI to monitor the progress of the game and take suitable remedial action, where found necessary.
4.14Induction in SAI’s schemes
- As stated earlier, the game of Fencing was adopted under the SAG Scheme, which was in vogue, during early nineties but was abandoned later. However, at the instance of the FAI, it was agreed to promote this game in STC/SAG Schemes and include this discipline in North East Region Development Plan in the last LTDP Meeting held in March, 2004. Action taken and progress made may please be apprised.
4.15 It is noted that the IOA and SAI have signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with CCI and FICCI respectively. It is also noted that SAI have also entered into an agreement with the Department of Sports and Recreation, Govt. of Western Australia. All these steps will no doubt, it is hoped, will accelerate the promotion of sports to achieve excellence in international sports competition. It is requested to include Fencing as one of the sports disciplines under these agreements, in the overall interest of the game’s further development and progress.
- SAI are also requested to use their good offices for undertaking telecast of national competitions etc. in Doordarshan etc. This will give a further impetus to the game and help in popularization of the game throughout the country.