Fencers start life in North Premier with funding crisis

Photograph by Peter Iveson

Photograph by Peter Iveson


BUCS Promotion Play-off – Wednesday 10th March

A superb season for York’s female fencers came to a glorious end on Wednesday when they defeated Newcastle University 123-84 to clinch promotion to the Northern Premier League.

However, all of their hard work this year has been put in doubt following the suggestion that the ever-tightening York Sport budget will not be able to cover their increased costs next year. The side have impressed all year, losing only once to the University of Oxford, and always looked like winning in their final game of the season. With added requirements in the higher league, such as a neutral and fully qualified referee, there are fears that the fencers will not receive the funding they need in order to compete.

Sarah Aynsley, Press and Publicity Officer, was adamant that funding would not be an issue, regardless of how much additional support York Sport would be able to offer: “I’m not going to let our women go to this much effort to have to drop out because we’re short of few pounds”, adding that she would do everything in her power to raise as much as money as possible if additional funding could not be made available.

Emily Scott, York Sport President, who was able to watch the fencers wrap up promotion, played down the severity of the budget issues: “When they (the Fencing Club) make their budget application, this will be highlighted and I’m sure everything will be fine.”

Despite Scott’s optimism, this news comes as an early hurdle to Sam Asfahani, the newly elected successor to Scott. With some already foreseeing a tightening of the purse strings for York Sport, having to spend more money on the Fencing Club would come as a sizeable blow, especially with some ambitious plans having already been promised.

womens fencing v newcastle - peter iveson - 10/3/10 -

Asfahani commented on the issue: “We should, if possible, encourage York teams that are doing well.” He also touched upon the need to bring back the Sports Excellence Fund for individual elite performers.

Either way, it is clear that Aynsley and the rest of the club are determined that all their hard work will not come to nothing.

That hard work was evident on the day as they fought off a competitive Newcastle side. The side started off slowly with the opposition taking the Sabre 45-41.

The class was close throughout but the quality of Newcastle’s skipper, Jen Tillott, shone through as she defeated Chzhen 6-1 in the final bout to secure the class for the away side.

York fought back to secure the Foil 37-23 following some clinical fencing from Katharine Gracey and with just the Épée to come the home side found themselves ten points ahead.

The season ended on a high as the final class went York’s way, 45-16. Highton, Gracey and Ellis were all comfortable as they managed to avoid losing even one of their Épée bouts. Gracey described herself as “ecstatic” as promotion was secured.

Following the win, the team weren’t about to let their funding prospects, or lack of, dampen their spirits though as they celebrated a brilliant season. Current, Captain Kat Chzhen said that they were “very, very happy” while Becky Ellis was “absolutely elated” with the side’s performance.

Louise Highton, next year’s Captain, added: “Let’s hope we do as well next year.” In order to do repeat this year’s succeses, the Fencing club will need the support of York Sport. Otherwise, it’s going to be a busy summer for the girls as they try and raise the required money to compete at the highest level.

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