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Dhaka Tribune

Relief and regret in fencing camp ahead of Asian Games debut

The players, officials and coach are delighted ahead of the Asian Games bow but difficulty in managing funding has been a disappointment

Update : 25 May 2023, 11:34 PM

Bangladesh fencing team are all set to participate in the Asian Games for the first time when the 19th edition of the continent's biggest multi-sports extravaganza takes place in China later this year.

The players, officials and coach are delighted ahead of the Asiad debut as it would be their first participation in any international competition after a gap of two years, but difficulty in managing funding has been a disappointment.

The last time they turned out in an international event was at the Islamic Solidarity Games in August, 2021 in Konya, Turkey when four fencers were part of Bangladesh's contingent.

Before that, they contested the South Asian Games 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal where Fatema Mujib bagged Bangladesh's first ever fencing gold medal in the women's individual sabre event.

“It's great that we would make our bow at the Asian Games. After South Asian Games, we only participated in the Islamic Solidarity Games. There has been a long gap and we also lacked training sessions. Now we are taking preparation for the Asian Games and getting the courage back,” Fatema told Dhaka Tribune.

The training camp of fencing for the Asiad began in Mirpur on May 15 with 12 players out of whom only three would be selected for the finals.

Among three forms of modern fencing, Bangladesh will participate in only sabre events where Fatema is considered the best in the country.

Fatema, who plays for Bangladesh Navy, is however, well aware of the strength of the continent's best counterparts.

“Our opponents will be of good quality in the Asiad and they have more experience than us. If we had played more tournaments abroad, we would have had some experience. Still, I hope for the best and target will be to improve my level,” she said.

“I love fencing. I play this sport with my heart so I will try my best to win at least a medal for the country.”

Abu Jahid Chowdhury has been guiding the training camp as head coach of the national team.

He said he will know more about the prospects of the players at the Asiad in three months' time.

Fatema Mujib (R) bagged Bangladesh's first ever fencing gold in individual sabre at the Nepal 2019 South Asian Games 

“I want to thank Bangladesh Olympic Association for providing fencing a chance in the Asian Games. We just started the camp focusing mainly on female players. I hope and try to bring a medal for the country but we will know better about this after three months,” said the coach.

Fencing is comparatively a new sport in Bangladesh.

The fencing association was formed in 2007 and it turned into a federation only last year.

Rezaur Rahman Sinha has been involved with Bangladesh fencing since day one.

He is now the joint secretary of the federation.

He informed that the number of tournaments and fencing clubs has increased in recent times.

There are four service teams – Army, Navy, Border Guard Bangladesh and Ansar.

Besides, there are also some colleges who compete in this sport while around 15 active fencing clubs exist in the country.

“The camp is now going on with 12 players. It will take some time to pick the top three. We are also trying to hire a foreign coach to take the best preparation for the Asian Games,” said Rezaur.

Fencing is an expensive sport as it requires electric jacket, sword, mask, gloves, trouser and shoes.

Federation's general secretary Selim Omrao Khan admitted their limitation due to lack of fund and sponsors.

“We are not getting support from International Fencing Federation (FIE) due to some domestic reasons. That is why we can't participate in more international competitions. We don't get any positive response from FIE. We also don't get any money from the sponsors,” said Selim.

He added, “We have crisis. Our efficiency is not up to the mark yet. But we are trying to take this sport to a reputable place. Asian Games will be a chance to know our potential on the big stage.”

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