Coach points to the future

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:14 AM ET

It would seem like a dream assignment for any coach to work with the national team, even if it meant heading to the other side of the world.

But for Manitoba provincial fencing coach Ayach Bounachada, this dream assignment comes with a tough choice. He'll have to leave his wife and four-month-old son behind for a month.

"This is one of the worst things for us coaches: to be away from your family," said Bounachada, who left Tuesday for China and his first assignment with the Canadian Fencing Federation.

Bounachada will serve as assistant coach for the national women's and men's foil team. Following a short training camp, the team will compete in Senior World Cup events, this weekend in Shanghai, China, and next weekend in Tokyo.

"This is more a case of preparing this team for the future," said Bounachada, a former Algerian national coach when he had two fencers qualify for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. "We have 12 athletes and most of them are young so we're preparing them for 2012 (Olympics). It's long-term preparation."

ONLY CANADIAN

Bounachada returns home in the middle of March with enough time to touch base with his wife Lynda and son Zacharia and do some laundry before heading back to the airport for the Junior and Cadet World Championships, March 23-31 in Linz, Austria. He is the only Canadian selected by the international fencing federation to referee at these championships.

"It is good for me and for Manitoba fencing as well," said Bounachada, a qualified fencing master and international referee who has been the Manitoba provincial coach since September, 2003. "The experience I gain will help the fencers of Manitoba."

Most national team fencers come from Quebec. If Bounachada has his way, Manitoba will bump out La Belle Province as the prime producer of fencers.

"That is one of my goals: to move the national team to Manitoba the next four years," he said.

FAMILIAR FACE: When Bounachada arrives in Linz for the Junior and Cadet World Championships, there will be a familiar face waiting for him. Manitoba provincial team member Katy Lupien from Winnipeg was the only Manitoba fencer to qualify for the Canadian team.

Ranked third in Canada as a junior and sixth overall, the 18-year-old will compete in the Junior Female Sabre individual and team events. As well, she will compete in a pair of Senior World Cup events: this weekend in London and next weekend in Foggia, Italy.

This is her third trip to the Junior and Cadet World Championships.


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