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Cumberland and Westmorland wrestlers may find it impossible to compete in this year's European Championships of the International Federation of Celtic Wrestling (IFCW) in the Canary Islands. Details of the championships were confirmed at a recent executive meeting in Brittany attended by David Atkinson, one of our main international coaches. Three issues stand in the way: safety, the date, and the cost.

The main change for this year's championships is that a third style has been compulsorily included in the programme. The Canarian hosts understandably wish to showcase their own traditional style, Lucha Canaria, and it has been made mandatory for each wrestler. Although not part of the European Championships, which continue to feature the backhold and Gouren styles, all wrestlers will have to compete in a Canarian Wrestling competition before the main event.

None of our wrestlers know about the Canarian style which is more akin to freestyle wrestling in many of its moves than to the other styles. A wrestler holds his opponent by a band of rolled up shorts at the top of one thigh, while the other arm can be free to grapple with either legs or body. The bout finishes when wrestlers hit the ground. When David Atkinson pointed out that we had no possible coach for the style, the Canarian offered to send a coach, but his air-fare and accommodation would be at our expense.

The other more general issue of safety. Wrestlers who compete in an alien style are more likely to be injured. If they went, our wrestlers would be competing in two alien styles. Exhaustion also leads to injury, and competition in three styles over two days would certainly raise tiredness levels.

For many years now the international has been held during Easter, but that does not suit us in the North of England as so many participants are involved in seasonal farming activity, particularly, lambing time. When we last hosted the Senior championship in 1999, we were able to choose a date which allowed our visitors to compete in the Cumberland Show wrestling afterwards, and Julio the Helicopter from Leon made his mark. When the date wandered around the calendar from year to year there were difficulties because of clashes with events at home, but it varied from year to year.

The final problem is, as ever, money. Sending a team to compete in Tenerife would be expensive, and without the enthusiastic participation of all concerned, that expense would be prohibitive. Add to this the fact that our two most experienced international coaches are not available to go, and the likelihood of a team representing this area is virtually impossible.

The final decision has not yet been made. It may be that wrestlers may wish to compete, and should be enabled, but they would have to come forward now, if they are to compete.

The Academy Shield, cancelled in the Ice-Age of November, will take place in a few weeks time. David Parsons, the Milnthorpe Coach has been waiting for the weather to settle before making a decision, and has yet to confirm date and venue. When he does, the information will be available on the Wrestling Association web-site

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (February 10th 2011)

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