Sheffield’s Andrew Basford helps next generation

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SHEFFIELD fencing coach Andrew Basford is looking to continue the work of London 2012 and help inspire a generation having been given a helping hand by a grants scheme.

The 38-year-old helped set up the Sheffield Sword Club seven years ago and for the last three years has coached fencing from the ages of seven-13 at the English Institute of Sport.

Basford has been refereeing fencing in international modern pentathlon for two years and acted as deputy director of fencing at London 2012.

Now he is looking to add another string to his bow by gaining his epee coaching qualification to go with his one for sabre so he can help more children get a taste for the sport.

“It’s great reaching out to kids and getting them involved. It’s not just about them doing fencing but giving them an opportunity to do things they have never done before,” said Basford. “We’ve got a prestigious venue and we get a lot of people coming in from all over the country.

“We’ve had three times as much interest since the Olympics. It has given us a massive boost. I got into fencing just before I was 30 because it was something I always wanted to try. I’m qualified to coach in the sabre class but would like to get qualification for the epee.

“I started refereeing international pentathlon in 2006 and did the 2009 World Championships and the European Championships last year.

“It was great to be at the Olympics. We were based at Greenwich Park so I saw a lot of the eventing and dressage. It was fantastic.”

Basford was not the only Sheffielder to receive a financial boost from the Gillette ‘Great Starts’ Grants Scheme, with trampolining coach Joanne Crowther also selected.

Crowther, who set up the Abbey Flyers Trampoline Club in 2000, is doing her Level One qualification now so she can coach at Bradway Pre-School where she works.

“I would like to get my qualifications so I can run sessions on my own at that age group at Bradway,” said Crowther.

“A course can cost between £300-500 so the Gillette ‘Great Starts’ Grants scheme will be a huge help. Trampolining is a minority sport so it was great to see it get some coverage at the Olympics. It will give our club a fantastic boost. We’ve had a number of enquiries since the summer. It’s clear that a lot of kids have been inspired by London 2012.”

The 2012 Gillette ‘Great Starts’ campaign celebrates community coaches and inspires the next generation of coaches by providing them with grants to fund their next level qualifications.