IWAS Wheelchair Fencing School to launch in 2021


The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing has revealed details of a new, worldwide training base for referees, classifiers and coaches at the Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre in Sao Paulo.

The IWAS Wheelchair Fencing School, which will launch in 2021, is the result of a collaboration between IWAS, the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) and Brazilian Fencing Federation (CBE).

The first year will see one course each for referees and classifiers and two for coaches. Participants will learn from experts and be taught everything they need to know, from rules through to how to train successful athletes.

Whilst the school is geographically geared towards developing wheelchair fencing in the Americas, activities will be open to other regions. In the future the sport will specifically target Africa and Asia, either by supporting participants to travel to Sao Paulo or by establishing similar training bases in those areas.

Rudi Van Den Abbeele, President of IWAS, said: “This is a hugely exciting and innovative project which will break new ground, and whose impacts will be felt across the world.

“Wheelchair fencing is a popular sport but we know that there are various barriers to new countries starting-up, including access to expertise locally from officials, classifiers and coaches. The school will sit nicely alongside other development activities, such as the appointment of a Development Officer, online training, talks and seminars and video material on coaching and how to make a DIY fencing frame.

“We are delighted to be able to use the excellent, purpose built facilities of the Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre. Huge thanks must go to the CPB for throwing their weight behind this initiative as well as CBE for extending their hand of friendship outside of Brazil to build wheelchair fencing in other countries.”

Pal Szekeres, Chair of the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Executive Committee, said: “The willingness and support of all organisations involved in the school shows how strong the fencing community is, and how much energy exists to bring the sport to new places.

“We are optimistic for the future, especially in the Americas with the LA 2028 Paralympics on the horizon. It would be great if in eight years’ time we could see some medal prospects as a result of it.”

As well as providing the facilities for training, CPB will also provide accommodation and meals at the centre. This will mean attending will be completely free; participants will only have to cover the cost of travel.

“The Brazilian Paralympic Committee is happy and proud to be part of this important programme, and helping to develop wheelchair fencing across the continent,” Mizael Conrado, two-time Paralympic gold medallist in football five-a-side and President of CPB, said. “We have already experienced what it is like to have a Paralympic champion [Jovane Guissone] in the sport and how that can make a massive improvement not only technically but also in the amount of people interested in the sport. As soon as the end of pandemic allows us to get back to normality the Brazilian Paralympic Training Center will have all doors wide open to have as many referees, classifiers and coaches as we can support.”

As well as their support with establishing the school, the CBE will help with the organisation of the courses and their national team coaches and international referees will deliver the training.

Their Vice-President and member of the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Executive Committee, Arno Schneider, said: “Here at CBE we know how important having good technical knowledge is. We had a Paralympic champion in Jovane Guissone at London 2012, which helped us to raise awareness of wheelchair fencing in Brazil ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympics. We would not have been able to do that without excellent referees and coaches, and we want to pass that learning and experience onto other countries.”