AMERICAN SAMOA/SAMOA, May, 2019—The fencing federations of American Samoa and Samoa, beneficiaries of the 2018 FIE Donate Your Fencing Gear! program, have actively been developing fencing in their region. As reported by the federations, using the FIE-donated equipment, they have increased numbers of overall fencers as well as enabled experienced athletes to participate in higher-level competitions.
The gear received by the Samoan federations included a variety of donations in multiple sizes, including smaller items (that are harder to come by). This has given the federations the ability to offer fencing to younger children, giving them a head-start in becoming successful athletes. The donated equipment has effectively raised the overall safety standards of fencing gear being used in practice and competition.
Helped by the donations, the federations plan to increase their reach into island communities by pursuing concerted recruiting programs into schools. In addition, the equipment donations and development programs will help the Samoan fencers compete and train in three weapons with neighboring Oceania countries including New Caledonia, Tahiti, Guam, Australia and New Zealand.
In March, they held a combined-federation inaugural “All-Samoan Championships”, along with a training and development program targeting junior athletes. Sessions led by the Regional Development Officer, Leon Thomas, and Regional Sport Director, Peter Creese, provided six athletes each from Samoa and American Samoa training activities ranging from footwork, technical drills and physical conditioning to in-depth information about rules of competition and fencing overall, refereeing, and competition management.
The All-Samoan Championships featured ten fencers in junior foil (six from American Samoa and four from Samoa) in a mixed-gender event including a separate final for the female athletes. Uelese Gregorio (ASA) took gold in junior men’s foil, and Barbara Roache (SAM) won junior women’s foil.
The Championships also included a team foil event between the two countries, with American Samoa winning, 45-13. The events attracted local spectators and media, and helped prepare several of the athletes for wider-region competition such as the late-April Oceania Cadet Championships in Wellington, New Zealand.
Equipment donated by the FIE Donate Your Fencing Gear! program was used by the Samoan fencers in both training and competition.