The ´Musketeers´ are the junior section of the Sarnia Sword Club. The sword club created a section to give youngsters between the ages of 10 and 14 a chance to "have a go" at fencing.
Fencing is considered, by some, to be a controlled, disciplined sport, full of technical phraseology and complex movements. It was the Sarnia Sword Club´s objective to try to strip fencing of this image and offer a simpler more attractive approach to the skills required. The Sarnia Sword Club structure is aimed primarily at Adults and Teenagers so it was felt that a new section should be created aimed at the younger fencer enabling the coaches to cater for these demands in a less formal manner.
The ´Musketeers´ group was created in 1998 with 12 members. Julie Dyer and Martin Corbet, both coaches with the senior club, were given the opportunity to coach these younger fencers.
The young fencers follow a similar training schedule to the adult beginners, the main differences being shorter training sessions introducing more variety and games, also the beginner fencers use a shorter lighter sword, this being easier to manipulate than its longer, heavier counterpart. Competition is an important part of the fencing process and thanks go to the sections sponsors, Woolwich, who support the junior league which is fenced once a month.
The commitment and speed of progression was a surprise to both coaches. Although the Musketeers season was planned to run from September until April, the commitment showed by the young fencers encouraged the coaches to organize a number of ´summer schools,´ to run once a month during the ´off season´ to help hone the skills even further. These are longer session than the normal club nights and incorporate training, footwork, games and some competitive fencing. These sessions are very well supported in spite of the additional handicap of the summer heat.
The following season saw an increase in numbers, this prompted assistance being required from the senior club member to assist with the running of the Musketeers, this was responded to enthusiastically, thanks from the coaches to those fencers who gave their time during this period. The sectioned moved from strength to strength with the second wave of beginners showing as much enthusiasm as the first.
An immediate benefit for Guernsey fencing has been the increase in numbers at the local and Channel Island junior competitions with entry numbers increased in both these events. Thanks to the Doulette and Touche for their support during the season.
The outlook for the next season looks very hopeful; some of the older fencer are now progressing into the senior club, and will no doubt raise a few eyebrows, out-fencing some of the older members. Two new coaches have volunteered their services; Steve Gillman and Claire le Poidevin are to join Julie and Martin. As a result of this more new fencers can be encouraged and a beginners course is planned for September.
If there are any prospective swordsmen or women out there between the ages of 10 - 14 then why not give it a try, for safety reasons numbers are controlled but why not E-mail The club from our 'CONTACTS' page and we will give you the full details. Anyone over the age of 14 need not be excluded, you can join the senior club beginners course instead !
Photo courtesy of The Guernsey Press and Star