Mrs. Maria Bobok is a Russian Fencing Coach with 28 years of professional coaching experience. She started fencing when she was 12 years old and joined the Sports School in Moscow to further her academic studies with a focus on sports. She graduated from Smolensk University of Physical Culture before going on to fulfil her passion to coach. Her sports science degree consisted of 5 years of education in various sports and sports-related disciplines.
With her husband, Viacheslav Bobok (informally known as "Slava") they worked closely for 12 years in School of Olympic Sport Reserve developing Russian fencers. Many of them represented the Russian Federation, and achieved excellent results both in Russia and international competitions. In late 2002, Coach Maria and her husband were invited to Singapore to raise the standard here.
Maria was the coach of the Singapore National Women's Epee Team until year 2006. When she had just taken the post, many senior women's epeeists retired due to commitments in their work or studies. Suddenly faced with an uphill task to fill in the gap of the National Team, she identified many young girls, most under the age of 17, to develop so as to replace the retired fencers. Under her motherly guidance, the girls improved significantly in their performance on the local and international scene beginning from the age-group to the senior (Open) level. Over these 3 years, her students swept all the gold medals in the Singapore Individual Championships in the Women's Epee Event across different age groups as well as the senior events. They have also had many good international performances, including Bronze at the Southeast Asian Championships 2006 for the Senior Team Women's Epee, and Silver and Bronze for the Cadet (U-17) Individual Event.
In year 2007, Maria has successfully obtained Level 3 of National Coaching Accreditation Programme (NCAP) with Sport Singapore, formerly known as Singapore Sports Council. It is important to note that Level 3 is the highest qualification which only few fencing coaches in Singapore posses.
Later in year 2007, Maria has founded Y-Sparks Fencing Team launching a community of young fencers who were dedicated to the cause since the start of their first training. In just 2 - 3 years time, Maria's young athletes have shown a tremendous result whereby almost each of her fencers in Y-Sparks Team won medals at the National Level and some of International Levels.
Y-Sparks Team has then began to expand and develop vastly starting from year 2010 after the local community has learned about our team's achievements, allowing Maria to enrich more lives with her knowledge of fencing. Many of Maria's fencers became members of Singapore Fencing National Team representing Singapore in international competitions. One of the reasons of such success is Maria's ability to focus on and develop the individual athlete according to the athlete's unique strengths instead of forcing on the same style of fencing onto every fencer.
At the moment, there are plenty of recreational fencers who have became a part of Y-Sparks Team receiving Maria's coaching guidance. Maria has always believed that professional sporting development is not only about training full-time and neither is it only for elite athletes. There is a handful of recreational senior fencers who train as well as parents who send their children primarily for health and fitness. However, their training is professionally carried out regardless of whether they choose to pursue high-level sport. This benefits fencers especially children in terms of holistic development. This also allows those interested to have a good foundation to build on, should they develop a passion to be competitive.