Why the nationality switch? Maxine Esteban calls out ‘unfair’ PH fencing


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Why the nationality switch? Maxine Esteban calls out ‘unfair’ PH fencing

MOVING ON. Maxine Esteban receives pointers from renowned fencing coach, Italian Andrea Magro.u00a0


Former top Philippine fencer Maxine Esteban admits it’s the ‘extremely hurtful, unfair, and disrespectful’ actions of the sport’s national federation that prompted her to switch allegiance to Cote d’Ivoire

MANILA, Philippines – Maxine Esteban had hoped to carry the Philippine colors in the Olympics.

Then the highest-ranked Filipino fencer in the world, Esteban admitted that several unfortunate events involving the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) led her to switch allegiance to Cote d’Ivoire. 

Napakasakit po. Sobra akong nabastos (It really hurt. I got really offended),” Esteban told Power and Play over the weekend. “My prayer and hope is that whatever happened to me would never happen to any Filipino athlete. What [my federation] did to me was extremely hurtful, unfair, and disrespectful.”

Esteban, now a naturalized Ivorian, said things started to sour when she got injured while representing the Philippines in the World Championship in Egypt in July last year.

The eight-time national champion and the only Filipino fencer World Cup multi-medalist tore her ACL, which required a six-month rehabilitation program. 

Esteban said that upon learning the extent of her injury, she immediately wrote the PFA requesting that she be excused from the national and international events of the qualifiers. 

The PFA, Esteban said, wrote back and excused her.

“In other countries, you don’t need to do that,” Esteban said. “You are excused and your ranking stays while you recover because that is the least that they can do to show their appreciation for your service and sacrifices.”

To her surprise, she was informed by fellow fencers that when the list of national athletes was posted, she was no longer part of the team. Esteban said the PFA did not even inform her of the decision. 

The world No. 39 then sought an audience with the PFA board to clarify the situation, attaching the federation’s response to her excuse letter – to no avail. 

Esteban denied leaving the country due to rich offers from abroad.

“First of all, I did not turn my back on my country,” she said. “I turned my back on my federation because it turned its back on me first.”

Esteban had several offers for naturalization from other countries but chose Ivory Coast because of her family’s long-standing ties to the country. She had also held clinics and donated fencing equipment to Ivory Coast when she was younger.

The 23-year-old Esteban said she no longer regrets how things turned out, but hopes that by opening up on her experience, it will lead to change in the way things are being run in national federations.

She hopes there will be no more athletes who will suffer from sports politics, particularly when officials arbitrarily change rules to fit their whims. 

“I hope I will be the last,” said Esteban. – Rappler.com

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