The Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre will house the training base ©IWAS

International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing has announced a worldwide training base for referees, classifiers and coaches in Sao Paulo will launch in 2021.

Known as the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing School, the base is located at the Brazilian Paralympic Training Centre.

The project follows collaboration between IWAS, the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) and Brazilian Fencing Federation (CBE).

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

“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.”

IWAS Wheelchair Fencing says the first year of the project will see one course each for referees and classifiers, along with two for coaches.

The participants will be taught by experts.

The topics will include the rules of the sport, as well as guidance on how to train successful athletes.

The centre is expected to develop wheelchair fencing in the Americas, however IWAS Wheelchair Fencing says activities will be open to other regions.

Africa and Asia will be specifically targeted in future.

This will be achieved by either supporting participants to travel to Sao Paulo or by establishing similar training bases in those areas.

Pal Szekeres, chair of the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Executive Committee, hopes the project will help the Americas region ahead of the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games.

“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,” Szekeres said.

“We are optimistic for the future, especially in the Americas with the Los Angeles 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.”

The CPB will provide accommodation and meals at the centre.

IWAS says this will mean attending will be completely free for participants, other than their cost of travel.

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.

“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.”