THE Buffalo Fencing club have grown from strength to strength in the short time since their start , making the cut to attend a prestigious international training camp in July last year.
The camp saw 14-year- old Paola Signorile ranked 8th in the international competition which kicked off the gruelling five-day camp.
“It was so difficult and intimidating. The training was intense and we had to do all kinds of bootcamp style tasks,” said Paola.
The young fencer competed and trained with fellow fencers and coaches from 17 different countries.
“I was so nervous, but the camp helped me a lot. I feel like I came back as a completely different fencer,” said Paola.
The camp also allowed Buffalo Fencing Club coach, Pearl Signorile, to hone in on her skill set and take back all she learned for the benefit of the club.
“The European countries each have such a different style of fencing and it was interesting to learn from and interact with different fencers and trainers,” said Pear.
The club’s membership has now increased to nine after only a year with newbie club fencers, Matthew Malan and Kayleigh Hiscock, attending their first fencing National Championships in Cape Town this weekend.
“My mom got me and my dad into the sport last year by encouraging us to go to a fencing clinic in East London with national coach, Sello Maduma. My dad and I have been addicted ever since,” said Stirling Primary pupil and Head Boy, Matthew.
He recently came first in the district, and will therefore represent the Eastern Cape in the U13 and U15 divisions at the South African Junior National Championships.
Joining him at the Nationals will be Clarendon High School grade 9 pupils, Kayleigh and Paola.
Kayleigh first fenced when she was 12 years old in Modern Pentathlon competitions, but stopped shortly after moving schools.
After meeting Pearl, Kayleigh fell in love with the sport all over again and added it to her impressive list of extracurricular activities which include waterpolo and life saving.
“Fencing gives you such an adrenaline rush. I just love going out there and having fun and giving my best,” said Kayleigh.
Both Matthew and Kayleigh have been fencing with the Buffalo Fencing Club for a year and are looking forward to many more years perfecting this strategic sport.
“It’s like a chess game, you can’t just go for it and hit, you have to plan your moves and learn how to read your opponents, ” said Matthew.
“If you don’t have the right mindset, you’re completely out of your game,” Kayleigh said.
The Buffalo Fencing Club is affiliated to the Eastern Cape Fencing Association with former Springbok in Modern Pentathlon, Jessica Raper as chairman and founder of fencing in the province.
The club has members of all ages and hopes to attract many more to the unique sport in the future.
“The thing I love about this sport is that anyone can do it, no matter how young or old and it really can be a great and fun family sport,” said Pearl.
“It teaches you problem solving skills and requires a lot of discipline.”
As this trio of talented fencers set the tone for the Buffalo Fencing Club’s successes, Pearl hopes to see all of her fencers in the top 10 positions in South Africa this year with her daughter, Paola, aiming high and hoping to win a medal and make it to the World Championships one day.