By Waylon Galvez

Just like other sports activities approved by the government under strict health protocols, fencing is also looking forward to get the green light for active competition.

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Philippines’ Haniel Abella, left, and Singapore’s Abdul Rahman Kiria face off during the fencing individual epee finals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at World Trade Center, December 4, 2019. (MB File Photo)

Through the orders of Philippine Fencing Association president Richard Gomez, national team mentor Amat Canlas submitted to the Philippine Sports Institute a proposal, which will be forwarded to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.

“Initially what we did was we submitted our proposal for the national team to resume training; since the lockdown puro kami online training,” said Canlas when contacted Thursday by Manila Bulletin.

“But it was returned to us, ang gusto is isang request lang kami para sa lahat including the clubs and schools. Now we’re waiting for the approval, and hopefully favorable response.”

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Philippine fencing team head coach Amat Canlas poses with a finger-heart. (Photo from Amat Canlas’ Facebook account)

The proposal, Canlas said, was submitted last week to PSI chief Marc Velasco. The PSI is under the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chaired by Butch Ramirez.

Canlas said that there are about 30 combined private and school clubs in the country, including his own Canlas Training Center, which turned to online teaching on aspiring fencers and current members of the national team since the implementation of lockdown to lessen the spread of COVID-19.

Late last month, the IAFT has approved the sports activities like running, biking, golf, swimming, tennis, badminton, equestrian and skateboarding in places that are under the General Community Quarantine since there is still the threat of being infected with the coronavirus.

Canlas said that in the proposal, aside from the usual health protocols of wearing facemasks, providing hand sanitizers in every training facility and social distancing, he mentioned several crucial steps for fencing.

“First, we’ll now allow for now sparring. Training would be allowed with the students/athletes wearing face shield while the coach would wear both facemask and face shield,” said Amat.

“There would also be a distance between the coach and his/her student. The important thing is the coach would be able to see in person the student – ‘coz it’s different in online.”

“Shoes used from outside would not be allowed inside the training facility – meaning students should bring their shoes for training. These parameters were from suggestions from different clubs before we forwarded it to the PSI,” added Canlas.

The national team mentor also said that in the proposal, it was also mentioned taking swab test or providing swab test results before entering a training facility but that could be applied to a member of the national team in the event they’ll be allowed to do scrimmage.

“For now, what we’re asking is for the clubs, the schools, to be allowed – just like other sports activities – to resume training with proper health protocols under the guidelines of the IATF,” said Canlas.

“For now, ito na muna, then we’ll see how it goes moving forward. Sana nga mapayagan na muna yung makabalik sa training, they we’ll make an assessment kung papaano kapag scrimmage na.”

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