Lucia Cáceres Alves from Marbella is a young 16 year old student, studying a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Rio Verde IES, where they bend over backwards to help develop the skills of youngsters with extraordinary gifts: fencing.
Lucía was earlier this March named the Andalusian Champion M20 (under 20s), becoming 2nd in M17 (under 17s) and 5th in the Absolute (all categories-aspiring Olympic Games level-), placing her in 10th place in the national ranking without having participated in all possible competitions during the 2013/2014 season. She has been practicing the sport for 9 years and always been a natural, but now the future of her sporting career is being seriously threatened by economic issues.
This young teenager trains 2 hours a day, 6 days a week at a Fencing Club in San Pedro with her trainer, Ukrainian Igor Hornayak, Olympic champion and world champion. Ideally to pursue an international ranking, Lucía needs to train two more hours every day, but that’s impractical for Hornayak, who hasn’t been paid for two years and needs to perform other paid work.
To promote her sporting success and eligibility for national titles she needs to participate in at least 8 annual competitions in Spain (international ones cannot be attended because of lack of funds). This would give her the chance to reach her potential nationally and internationally, and to show that she could have an important career ahead of her.
Each trip to Spain to compete in different cities has an average cost of 500 € (hotels, meals, transportation, etc…), also the cost equipment has to be added; maintenance and a weapon license. In total, the estimated budget for Lucia to be able to continue fencing is around €3,000, an amount that her family has to pay in full and are not receiving any official help.
To help Lucia continue her sporting career, both nationally and internationally, her parents are developing a support campaign through which they hope to get grants from private entities and individuals. So companies (financial institutions, sports brands, construction, etc.) could sponsor her (in part or in whole) in exchange for tax benefits and advertising.
The Royal Spanish Federation of Fencing have acknowledged her surprising results and congratulate Lucia for her achievements. Jesús Torrecilla Rojas said, “The future of the national sport of fencing is very uncertain. Since 2009 we nearly 70% of revenues from grants have been reduced as well as the contribution of ADO (for the Olympics). ”
According to Torrecilla, “right now we cannot even finance the junior international competitions, they are being funded by the clubs and the families of the fencers, we have also had to reduce the senior international calendar, this has damaging consequences to our athletes as it may jeopardise their chances of ever becoming Olympians.” For this reason the General Secretary RFEE refers to Lucia’s parents to the Andalusian Federation of Fencing to encourage them to try alternative routes of help.
Unfortunately Lucia is not an isolated case, many young people have to leave the sport because of lack of financial support.