Senior member of Athos Fencing
David Chen (R) and Huzaimi
Kassim (L) in action during a
practice session. Chen said
Fencing is a sport that is
growing in popularity among
Brunei's youth. Picture:
Courtesy of David Chen
Fencing is a sport that is slowly but steadily gaining in popularity among children in the Sultanate.
David Chen, a senior member of Athos Fencing, said that Brunei's national fencing team is running short on new talents and resources but the sport is growing among children from various schools in the Brunei-Muara area.
"We have training classes at Jerudong International School (JIS). We used to have fencing lessons at ISB (International School Brunei) but most of them are training here," the 29-year-old told The Brunei Times in a recent interview.
"These young people will become potential competitors," he said, adding that most of the trainees at their club are aged 17 and below.
Chen explained that students come and go but those who are genuinely interested in the sport would usually attend more than 20 sessions.
He added that the longer the trainees stay to train at the club, the better their chances of representing the club and country in competitions.
"What we do here is basically teach them the basics so when they reach a certain level we can nominate them to represent the national team."
Chen explained that the training centre is actually owned by the father of fellow fencing trainer Huzaimi Kassim.
Chen met national fencer Huzaimi in 2008 and sharing a mutual interest in fencing they noted the lack of a fencing club in the Sultanate.
"There was only a national team," said Chen who boasts five to six years experience in Singapore's national fencing team.
At that time, Huzaimi had just returned from the United Kingdom after completing his studies. However, the idea went dormant.
It was not until 2011 that Chen and Huzaimi revisited the idea because the national team, according to their observation, had begun to lose fencers.
The sport needed new blood and a talent identification programme was carried out in Lambak Kiri Secondary School on March 30 this year.
"Thanks to the talent identification programme, we now have a bigger pool of potential fencers," said Chen.
"In terms of the economic environment, we won't contribute much," said Chen. "But in terms of supplying the nation with new potential fencers I think (the club) will be a great help."
He described how schools in Singapore and United Kingdom have commercial fencing clubs; something that Brunei is missing.
Chen noted that many people think fencing is a very expensive sport, a stereotype that is not necessarily true.
He explains that fencing gear is a "one-time investment".
Quality fencing gear will last for five years or more whereas cheaper ones have a lifespan of just two years.
Equipment are available at the club for newcomers. This allows them to try out the sport before they decide whether or not to purchase their own gear to continue training.The Brunei Times