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MatFink
-9th August 2008, 10:07
2012 Olympics is coming the writing is on the wall, other nations have achieved more than us in the last 4 years with less resources. Why?

I have started this thread because early this morning I made a post that because it was early in the morning was worded less elegantly than it could have been which left it open to be misinterpreted as a dig at our fencers rather than praise of others achievements and a genuine attempt to stimulate debate about the reason behind their success ahead of ours.

I was absolutely incensed that for all the people who read it, misunderstood it (ie were threatened by it), and with those who felt the need to let me know their feelings not one person (of all those who thought I was 'having a dig' at or fencers) not one person either privately or publicly (including family members who have made private comment) defended them.

This makes sense if everyone has read it the way it was intended,but there are people out there actively believe that I was trying to criticise our fencers and yet have not had one word to utter to the contray, to the point I felt the need to defend them.

So here it is, we clearly have the talent specifically in Men's Foil (who are delivering medals) and womens sabre. Our athletes do work hard! They are determined and they do make sacrifices. But something is clearly missing.

The discussion should not be limited to MF WS but as our flagship teams they seem to be the right place to start.

Maybe we do need to relocate our squad abroad, maybe they have to train even harder than they already do, may it is something else or many things, but forums promote debate and drive change so lets have the discussion.

Whatever we are doing is not working as well as what others are doing so let's talk about it.

Mr long sword
-9th August 2008, 14:28
Fencing needs money.
We dont have to send anyone anywhere apart from specific overseas training camps and trips.

With money you can pay top coaches to work here.
You can have proper training facilities, look at germany of france.

Fencing needs more exciting, fast, stylish, sexy media coverage to change the public perception of what fencing is because most think of it as just a posh peoples sport that uses a 'pokey' thing.

Free fencing for children.

Maybe a new governing body...?

We need to emulate great fencing nations.

Also I have noticed so much 'bitching' and we're not even good enough.

Hmmmm...

Marcos
-9th August 2008, 15:41
whilst i am all for debate, i can't believe you have opened this thread today before your fencers have even taken to the piste

there is always need for ideas, growth, and innovation, but the first step is

"what can I do to improve things?"

a load of random waffle on the opening days of the olympics is totally the wrong way to go about things

and, before you think i'm threatened, I have almost nothing to do with GBR fencing

Red
-9th August 2008, 15:55
I agree with Marcos. Alex, Richard and Martina haven't even had the chance to be hugely disappointing yet.

MatFink
-9th August 2008, 15:57
But my thoughts were not so much to do with the athletes in Beijing because ultimately they are a success story and I look forward to following their progress.

But what better time to reflect on possible reasons that others with the same and greater support and opportunities have not managed to join them.

The event today was a stark reminder that in modern fencing if you are not progressing you are falling behind. With athletes ranked far below our own a few years ago qualifying (which I am aware can be influenced by geography) but more significantly performing at these Olympics.

We have 3 excellent athletes at the Olympics, but I would not say they were typical of fencers produced and developed by our system.

The significant factors beyond the obvious one of talent and important for us to identify.

It is my sincere hope that during this week while watching the best fencing in the world including our own team that l will take some time to consider what we can do differently to make not just 2012 but future Olympic qualification runs more successful.

Best of success to all three GB fencers.

MatFink
-9th August 2008, 16:03
I agree with Marcos. Alex, Richard and Martina haven't even had the chance to be hugely disappointing yet.

My assumption is quite the opposite. Richard has shown on many occasions his ability to deliver results at the big events.

Alex won a fantastic fight against seeding to be i Beijing and again has an excellent track record on the big occasion.

I don't know Martina very well, but I can't not note that 4 years ago Mariel Zagunis was the last into the pot after a similar situation arose, so all things are possible.

To agree Marcos but to imply huge disappointment is a bit like betting on both teams.

What individuals have achieved is good,but we need to find a way to succeed more consistently as a nation.

Red
-9th August 2008, 19:06
To agree Marcos but to imply huge disappointment is a bit like betting on both teams.


Sorry, I was under the impression that you'd already written them off. My mistake.

Ronald Velden
-9th August 2008, 20:53
This is not the time to debate our international programme before fencers
compete in Beijing.

However, I am sure that there is a review of the present National Programme
and no doubt there will be changes made where necessary.

What is more important post Beijing is the sport puts together a coherent
and workable development plan to cover fencing downstream.

Sports England are now in discussions with 42 National Bodies with regard
to their National Programmes for 2009-10. Hopefully England will put
together a programme and get some funding.

The sport needs a ten year plan [not 2 years as required by Sports England]
Once in place they should stick to it and ensure that they have the funding
to implement it.

Baldric
-9th August 2008, 21:03
This is not the time to debate our international programme before fencers
compete in Beijing.

However, I am sure that there is a review of the present National Programme
and no doubt there will be changes made where necessary.

What is more important post Beijing is the sport puts together a coherent
and workable development plan to cover fencing downstream.

Sports England are now in discussions with 42 National Bodies with regard
to their National Programmes for 2009-10. Hopefully England will put
together a programme and get some funding.

The sport needs a ten year plan [not 2 years as required by Sports England]
Once in place they should stick to it and ensure that they have the funding
to implement it.


RIGHT, RIGHT AND THRICE RIGHT!

The only problem is that the only large scale funding stream available is from central Government, (through UKS, SE etc) and they don't do 10 year plans, so the last sentence might be a bit pie in the sky.

Baldric
-9th August 2008, 21:04
PS - once the OGs are over, I will post more.

Ray

Marcos
-9th August 2008, 21:34
In tesco today:

£5

"Sticky fencing game"

two vests, two foam swords, and sticky pads that attach to the vest when the tip of the foam sword hits it

be inspired......

D'Artignan
-9th August 2008, 23:45
I think this is probably a debate that has gone on in some form or other at various levels in BF since it started to exist. BUT, as an FIE ref, (unless I've got their real life identity seriously wrong), what would the OP suggest is the difference between the level of performance of, say, the MF and the real top-class guys, who are consistently the creme-de-la-creme?

I'd have thought it'd probably be easier for someone who's not focussed on winning to observe those differences.

EDIT: And shouldn't this be in the general fencing section?

DSSabre
-10th August 2008, 08:15
I agree that this topic may ot have come up at the best time but is there really a good time. England fencing someone reminded me in a different post is about development not elite performance. So whatever england does unless i am wrong and i am sure Ronald or someone else will correct me if i am wrong is only importnat for getting people into the sport and developing the sport not a small task i know. However elite level performance is the remit of the BFA and PD.

I am sure that Graham when he gets back from Beijing and Macau (where he has been doing excellent work looking after us all) will start planning next year. The problem we have is matt is in part right. We have three fencers who by diffferent means have qualified for the olympics. However only one of these fencers has come through the system as it were (Richard). Martina lives and trains in italy and Alex who came through Brentwood are not examples of success for the systme but more the individual athelets.

I think the question is why did these individuals succeed how can we take the best parts of their set up and apply it elsewhere?

I have to agree with Matt and it pains me to do so but we will need action almost as soon as this olympics is over at the latest by January with how we go forward to maximise the number of fencers we have at the next olympics.

P.S. As alex's coach i really do hope he won't be hugely disappointed.

Keith.A.Smith
-10th August 2008, 08:43
Matt,


To write off our fencers before thay have even fenced is incredible.

We have another four years and our quite highly funded programme has only been working for 18 months.

To be blunt we need the following

1. A larger pool of dediacteda dn talented fencers.
2, Ditto coaches.
3. Officials who work for the fencers and concerned in only one thing, GB success, and not always worriying about if another coach is doing better than them.
4. A can do and not a cannot attitude.
5. A more holitsic training regime with psychology, fitness, tactical and technical training.
6. Greater exposure at international level training.

We also need to get each HC to work on developmentt and also to work closely with BFA, so that if there can be economies of scale thay can be utilised.

7. WE need to look at whether HC Sports Cuncils will actualy fund fencing.

8. We need more professional staff as not all volunteers can give sufficient time,expertise etc.

9. We need better refs so our top fencers experience international style refereeing. Refs need to train or not aspire to really high FIE level exposure.

I am not being a blind optimist but had I taken the constantly negative attitide of some we would not have the funding, 3 fencers in the Olympics, men's foil realy achieving good international results at al levels.

Ultimately it takes years of really hard work to succeed. We have started but need to push ever harder to 2012 and indeed to 2016.

Keith

Ronald Velden
-10th August 2008, 10:43
The priority over next four days are our three fencers doing their best in
what appear to be difficult draws.

Watching and learning then from the best prepared teams in the Games
and if possible identifying the best coaches whilst there.

Thereafter allowing the Performance Director to sit down with UK Sport
who are paymasters and along with BOA will no doubt offer their input.

However, going back to to Sports England's current plans for 2009-10
I believe that England Fencing needs to prepare their plans properly over next 8 weeks.

Based on my knowledge of EF's last bid they need to research better how
other teams are submitting their bids and be 'realistic' in what they want to
achieve.

MrsWFFC
-11th August 2008, 09:36
England fencing someone reminded me in a different post is about development not elite performance. So whatever england does unless i am wrong and i am sure Ronald or someone else will correct me if i am wrong is only importnat for getting people into the sport and developing the sport not a small task i know. However elite level performance is the remit of the BFA and PD.


If you think that development of the sport at the level of the Home Countries is only important for getting people involved in the sport then I cannot see much success for any elite program within British Fencing.

The 1st coach that a fencer has sets the groundwork for everything else and a well taught young fencer will be able to slot into a high performance program perhaps more easily than a more talented but less well schooled fencer where more remedial work is required on technique.

Sorry but this section of your post made my blood boil, everything that BF can do at a elite level is built on what the Home Countries (all of them) do at a development level and to write it off their efforts and work in this way is IMHO incredibly short sighted.
To suggest that England Fencing has no interest or input into elite fencers is IMHO wrong, how do the fencers get to the standard of being picked up by BF - divine intervention?

We need to start looking at the WHOLE sport in a more holistic way and while certain groups have responsibility for certain areas we need to ensure that everyone is working to the same game plan overall.
The fact that these groups are funded from different bodies makes it more difficult but not impossible to adopt this approach.

We need to stop thinking that EF and SF do this or that and BF has nothing to do with us until we produce a fencer who can get results at international level.
Until we have a coherent long term BF led vision that the Home Countries and their respective funders can buy into then I think we will continue to putter along as a we are now.

Nick_C
-11th August 2008, 10:11
OK this is a sensitive issue looked at from the wrong angle, but i do think we need to rethink the way we support out athletes. I certainly do not have all the answers, but perhaps anyone who's trained abroad with knowledge of how othercountries train up from grass roots level and support their athletes over the years to come could share that with us. One difference I have heard from two friends of mine (French and Italian fencers) is that at their home clubs they apparently practice footwork only for all beginners for the first two years at least, ie beginners dont get to even touch a weapon until their footwork and distance is impeccable. I know of no british clubs that do this. Perhaps adopting advice from foreigh coaches into our pathway and grassroot schemes might help. One example - there are surprisingly few fencers who actually lunge properly in this country - and this is usually one of the very first things taught.

Baldric
-11th August 2008, 10:41
We need to stop thinking that EF and SF do this or that and BF has nothing to do with us until we produce a fencer who can get results at international level.
Until we have a coherent long term BF led vision that the Home Countries and their respective funders can buy into then I think we will continue to putter along as a we are now.


Hi Mrs WFFC.

A year ago, I would have argued with you about this. At that time, it seemed to me that BF and the HCs were going off in different directions. BF seemed to have no interest in anything other than elite
athletes or officials, and from a HC point of view, frankly BF seemed to be a barrier to progress, unhelpful to the point of being obstructive. My feeling at that time was that EF had to "go it alone" or nothing would get done.

In the last few months, I sense a major sea change in the approach from BF. Where once they were aloof, now they seem more interested in development stuff. Where funding used to be completely separated, now there is talk of co-operation and blurring the boundaries.

This is EXTREMELY welcome, and I think that the HCs need to rethink their relationship with BF as a result.

I also think that the HCs need to rethink what has become a knee-jerk rivalry between themselves. I appreciate that some in SF, WF and NIFU think that BF is English dominated, and I suppose it is in an ethnic sense, (ie lots of board members are english) but not in an organisational sense.

I think we have become overfocussed on the HCs as teams for JHI, 5 nations and CFF, which casts us in the role of competitors. Our joint development brief is far more important than who wins what medals in the Home internationals. Yet the only time EF seems to talk to its opposite numbers in SF or WF is in connection with one of these comps.

It is going to take considerable courage on behalf of the various boards to change often entrenched positions.

Interesting times. :whistle:

Ray

MrsWFFC
-11th August 2008, 11:30
Hi Baldric,

I agree that there does seem to be a change of direction within BF and yes it is most welcome and I think essential if the sport is to move onwards and upwards.

I think that some problems have arisen in the past because Home Country funding streams have been driven in one direction and BF funding streams in another. As well as the fact that in some areas there has been great resistance to change for a variety of reasons, some historical, some power based. I'm sure Scotland fall into this category in some ways:D

I am sure this is something that can be resolved in the future if BF has a plan that we can all buy into and persuade our funders to as well and I look forward to future developments with hope in my heart.

It is hard for some of us at the bottom end of the pile when plans and goals are not communicated, BF are improving in this area in leaps and bounds, EF have been fantastic at this since their first "Whole Sport Plan" (hope that's the right name I did read it once!)was published and you have been good at trying to involve your stakeholders in helping to decide future directions through various means.
Scotland in my opinion have slipped back on this somewhat as they don't publish their four year or annual plans anymore and we'd rather sit back and moan about the Board than offer constuctive help sometimes:eek: .

As I am not on the Board I don't know about communications between the HC's but can guess from previous involvement we still don't talk to you unless its about a chance to "whup" the "Old Enemy" - Oh come on I can dream can't I?:whistle:
If we were all working towards a common goal though this might change......................

Part of the problem (IMO) is that some HC's measurable outcomes are or have been very much success orientated at International level and again this is driven by the funding streams from their funders.
It's hard to put in place a really good development program when your funder wants Commonwealth medals or fencer on GB pathways - you get sidetracked into the elite end and then when those fencers retire there is a panicked reaction to find the next batch instead of a steady working towards both goals.
Hopefully involvement from and with BF can help resolve these issues in the future.

Interesting times indeed........................

Nick, if we had the National interest in fencing that countries like Italy and France have - a fencing hall in most decent sized towns, TV coverage, fencing stars dating movie stars then maybe we could keep our members on footwork for two years but I think they'd leave the sport in droves if you tried that one here.

I don't think we put enough emphasis to teach our very basic level coaches how to spot and correct basic mistakes and more emphasis is one winning than on technique from many coaches. Just about every pathway in the country relies on performance to select its participants.

Not sure how we change that but more opportunities based on technique rather than competitive skills would help or a program to improve the coaches i.e. to show the coaches training techniques and how to measure skills that can be taken back to all the fencers in a club. I know that this was one of the hopes of the CPP but as coaches had to pay for their own expenses not many took up on it.

I am sure there a better brains than me working on solving this one tho ....

DSSabre
-11th August 2008, 11:33
If you think that development of the sport at the level of the Home Countries is only important for getting people involved in the sport then I cannot see much success for any elite program within British Fencing.

The 1st coach that a fencer has sets the groundwork for everything else and a well taught young fencer will be able to slot into a high performance program perhaps more easily than a more talented but less well schooled fencer where more remedial work is required on technique.

Mrs WFFC,

the only reason i made this statement was because in a previous thread i had suggested that there should be more involvement form the national coaches to do with development. I suggested that British fencing should be looking at how we prodce elite level fencers and that it has to start from the very begining. I do believe that it matters greatly what coach a fencer has from the begining.

I was merely told at the time that England fencing was incharge of development and British fencing elite level performance. Baldric pointed that out to me. Hopefully from his post below things are changing slowly.

The whole sport is about to go through change post Beijing with BFA elections, England elections. Lets hope it is a change for the positive. I do strongly believe that British fencing where a lot of the elite level funding is going must also look at development as they have the resources in the National Coaches that should be helping develop other coaches where possible.

This whole issue i am hopeful will be addressed ASAP.

David

mozzar
-11th August 2008, 11:52
One difference I have heard from two friends of mine (French and Italian fencers) is that at their home clubs they apparently practice footwork only for all beginners for the first two years at least, ie beginners dont get to even touch a weapon until their footwork and distance is impeccable. I know of no british clubs that do this.

Personally, i think this could realy hinder any chance of growth in British fencing. Whereas in Italy and France, where there is already a much larger pool of fencers and the sport is relatively well understood, they can spend two years on footwork because the begginers will have some idea of what they are developing to. But in Britain two years of pure footwork would put so many people off that the standard would probably fall as we lose more naturally talented fencers.

Until the sport is as respected in this country as it is in mainland Europe, or until the participant rate is higher, i think it'd be best to only take small amounts of advice from a system that is so fundamentally different to ours.

MrsWFFC
-11th August 2008, 12:03
Dear DSSabre,

I am glad I have seemed to misinterpreted your post.

I don't think I have seen the thread you have cross referenced from and I am sure Baldric's reply was purely from an EF viewpoint but please, as someone who wants to be on the BF board, remember there is more than one HC and you have to structure your responses to include us all, even if replying to a one HC biased post.

ALL HC's have a remit for development from BF
BF and EF are indeed having elections - as are SF.................;)


I am sure Nationals Coaches could help to structure a program that the HCs could include into their own coaching programs. Or a BF program along the lines of the CPP but for coaches rather than fencers - I'd pay to be on that!
Whether they (national coaches) have the time and/or expertise to deliver it as well is a different matter. Just as not all top level fencers can become top level coaches, not all top level coaches make good coach educators. The idea to help coaches improve or to help HC's improve their coaching programs is laudable tho.

Ronald Velden
-11th August 2008, 14:49
Ref: WWFC

I brought up the issue of how the sport is organized currently on another
thread. The question which as I suggested previously needs to be asked and
addressed is does a sport with fewer than 10,000 members need 5 National
Bodies to run it?

This situation has arisen partly because of nationalism and also politics.
The decison to establish England Fencing was taken also in the hope that
the sport could generate additional funding from Sports England. So far without success.

What you now have are 5 fiefdoms with considerable overlap in activities.

If the sport is to progress then in my view there needs to be a total review
as to how the sport is being 'organized'.

Keith has responded on this thread by being defensive about the role of
BFA and understandably so. There is clearly frustration in the way that
the sport is run, but more importantly how limited resources are being
used.

As I wrote previously there is a short window of opportunity for the sport
to improve its lot and that must be grasped.

London 2012 is about a small number of athletes already in the system, but
it does nothing for the future health of the sport.

DSSabre
-11th August 2008, 15:01
Ref WFFC

Thankfully being Welsh i am aware that there is more than one HC, the problem of development is pressing in all the HC. I am also aware that National Coaches who are epmloyeed for their ability to coach may notbe the best educators of other coaches. However i am lead to believe that the HC already have educators and the role i envisage for the National coaches is more one of instructing these instructers about their respective weapons and how they would expect the weapon to be taught. The educators would then go out and teach the beginner / club/ county level coaches etc.

Now the big question is does any HC have the coach eductors in place to deliver the coach development to the less experienced coaches. What is in it for the coaches to be trained. What are they training for.

I agree with Keith's post about coaches saying we need more dedicated and talented coaches who re interested in GB success ahead of their own. (although i do feel the two go a little hand in hand). Ronald has gone as far as to say the whole sport needs to look at how it is being organised and i have to be honest i can't disagree with his view.

If we are looking at Elite athelete development it must be started by the HCs all of them but it must be guided from the BFA. There must be a link as all elite funding comes from BFA at all levels. Hopefully this will come about soon as, as we only have four years until the olympics are here.

Marcos
-14th August 2008, 08:54
The system

Fencing is an individual sport...consequently, the system is never going to be responsible for all a country's international fencers.

All it takes is a great coach and a talented athlete and you have someone who can do great things.

However, the same is true in every country, which means the sport is always going to be competitive!

All the system can do is ensure that the highest number of talented athletes are attracted into the sport and trained, and that the coaching is there to help them develop


appraoch
Byrne qualified for the Olympics by concentrating on the US domestic circuit and not flying around all over the world.

Travelling to every GP and WC is tiring (and expensive) and, in any case, qualification from Europe is intensely difficult.

That said, her Olympic 1st round opponent was battle hardened after the season and was off the blocks faster.

Does GBR keep sending fencers to every tournament going? Their schedule looks hard to be honest, especially for those doubling between Junior and Senior circuits.


2012
how many medals have China won in fencing?

On the day anything can happen...judge the pathway on longer trends...

Ronald Velden
-14th August 2008, 09:44
Ref: Marcos

I agree to a point that British Fencers need to be far more selective in
the competitions, which they enter. Entering every tournament, which
moves has always been a problem here including at youth level.

However, the real issue is that the overall standard of competitions in
Britain is not strong enough for elite athletes unless we organize more
international standard events here.

One of the major changes which will need to be made post Beijing will
be to our National Coaching Structures. I think that there will be recruitment
there in at least two of the weapons.

We need to appoint coaches who have first hand experience of international
success and also can organize weapon programmes.

Marcos
-14th August 2008, 09:52
agree -

you cant address everything in one post!

Rdb811
-16th August 2008, 01:20
This may be of interest - it's about the rise of British cycling:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/cycling/7534073.stm

marg
-16th August 2008, 10:33
This may be of interest - it's about the rise of British cycling:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/cycling/7534073.stm


That's a really good article, thanks for the link!

Meg_SF
-16th August 2008, 23:19
Personally, i think this could realy hinder any chance of growth in British fencing. Whereas in Italy and France, where there is already a much larger pool of fencers and the sport is relatively well understood, they can spend two years on footwork because the begginers will have some idea of what they are developing to. But in Britain two years of pure footwork would put so many people off that the standard would probably fall as we lose more naturally talented fencers.

Until the sport is as respected in this country as it is in mainland Europe, or until the participant rate is higher, i think it'd be best to only take small amounts of advice from a system that is so fundamentally different to ours.

I agree in part, although I do think that there has to be an emphasis on footwork and distance from the beginning. This doesn't have to be taught by a world champion or international coach in my opinion, but should be based on a solid teaching technique that is well structured.

But anywho..

...what about going at it from a different angle? Could we incorporate the moves into some sort of workout routine, or dance? Could we create some sort of choreographed stage-fight routine? Could we get involved with some sort of 'Wii' or similar games platforms to introduce it that way?

I remember really enjoying the footwork section of the workshop with the 'Black Tulip' stage-fighting crew last year - it reminded me of a dance/aerobics class. It was fun!

TomA
-17th August 2008, 00:07
Could we get involved with some sort of 'Wii' or similar games platforms to introduce it that way?

I think at the moment creating a realistic game would be impossible.

1) It wouldn't have enough financial viability for the developer

2) The Wii Remote isn't sophisticated enough. It registers movement up and down and side to side very well. However it is not so good at picking up rolling movements, forwards and backwards movements or diagonal movements. Slight movements are also unlikely to be registered.

This would make straight thrusts, beats, binds, changes of guard and a host of other movements extremely difficult. Basically, the Wii remote's not good enough to be used as a fencing weapon

3) You can 'cheat' with the Wii Remote.

By 'cheating' I mean you can use movements which would not be of any practical use in real life to manipulate the Wii Remote for the same effect as a correct movement. Eg in Wii Sports, the boxing game is highly unrealistic, as it's better to make tiny swinging movements with the remote and nunchuk (about 3 inches) using the wrist and fingers, than to actually jab. So a game would in all likelihood teach and reward poor technique. Fine if you just want to hook people in, but then why make it realistic?

4) The Wii Remote cannot generate resistance against your hand.

This would make any blade-to-blade actions difficult.

Obviously as a commercial way of getting people into the sport, a game's always a good idea. Again though, I'm not sure how many people who play computer games would buy a pure fencing game, just because of reputation (or lack of) more than anything. More games like Mario+Sonic Olympics are good because the other events draw people into buying them, but then they can have a go at the fencing and hopefully some like the idea.

Tom (who spends more time playing and discussing games than is strictly healthy).

Foilling Around
-19th August 2008, 15:14
This may be of interest - it's about the rise of British cycling:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics/cycling/7534073.stm

To paraphrase Rebecca Adlington on her swimming success.

"We have great coaches, we have a great head coach, we have great facilities and a great performance director"

I would add that to get all of those things they have a great level of funding.

We need a national centre, the funding to bring in the best best coaches to coach there and therefore the right to insist that the fencers move to train there.

Whilst our National coaches exist mostly on private income, and the nearest we can come to a national centre is "the factory", then we will only ever achieve sporadic individual success not any knod of production line of success.

We need a full time P.D. who has the time to actually know what the fencers below the top 2 or 3 look like and has seen them fence.

Baldric
-19th August 2008, 15:51
Its about money and attitude.

Because we don't have enough money, we have an amateur attitude.

I don't mean that as a criticism of individual athletes - it runs throughout the sport, but it includes athletes, coaches, officials and parents.

We have a part time PD
We have our best athletes working/studying as well as training
We have tatty, small, inadequate facilities
We have national coaches whose main source of income is elsewhere
We have other coaches who are laws unto themselves
We have NGB officials who can't see beyond sectional interests

There is a degree of chicken and egg about this.

UK Sport have money, and Beijing has been an object lesson in what happens when you combine cash with a professional, focused organisation.

We have to convince UKS that if they give us the cash, we can produce the professional organisation and CHANGE OUR ATTITUDES.

We have a unique chance to force those changes through.

For the first time we have a full time, professional CEO.
We have a president who has just won the last election before 2012, and can therefore afford to make some unpopular decisions.
We have the successes in Beijing to prove that money produces results
We have 2012 on the way with the funding climate that it producesI guess that Keith and Graham will be politicking like mad with UKS to get them to give fencing the money to do the job.

If they get it, we have to be brave enough to change our attitudes and face up to some tough decisions.

Keith.A.Smith
-19th August 2008, 16:04
Dear Baldric,

I could not have put it better myself.

Now back from Beijing with a great deal of ideas.

I am determined our British Fencers will have the best chances possible in London 2012 and before but this requires all that you have said.

It will require commitment, professionalism, ruthlessness from all involved as well as available facilities, excellent coaching and sufficientfunding.

Those who cannot contribute will have to be left out.

We will never have this chance again.

Romania qualified 5 fencers and came hone with two fencing medals and has only about 600 or so licence holders. Their answer is continual hard work and excellent coaching. Facilities are not great (I have been to see them) but fencers are full time as are coaches.

Keith

JohnL
-19th August 2008, 22:01
I'm sorry guys, but;

"Back from Beijing with a great deal of ideas"

It's a bit late for that. In case people haven't realized it, the Chinese have been planning their success at these Olympics not for the past 4 years but for the past 12 (at least).

We qualified 3 fencers (by the skin of their teeth) and the results were predictable. I make no criticism of these fencers, nor of the ones who were trying to qualify but didn't make it, they work to acheive success but are not in a system that breeds success. These fencers acheivements are in spite of the system, not because of it, and will continue to be minimal until radical action is taken.

I have suggested the way forward, yes I know I'm a boring old fart, but until the suggestions I have put forward are adopted, we will continue to be the second rate fencing nation we are.

Should anyone believe that this is going to change in the next 4 years, I can suggest a good analyst as you're clearly delusional.

Spider5
-20th August 2008, 07:17
Its about money and attitude.

Because we don't have enough money, we have an amateur attitude.

If they get it, we have to be brave enough to change our attitudes and face up to some tough decisions.

The chances of success in gaining funding will be significantly increased if the attitude and committment is changed first. Serious investors in businesses will only put serious money into them if there are committed individuals with a clear and viable plan that needs money as the accelerator. I don't see a fundamental difference between a professionally run sport and a viable business in that respect. The real difference is that the dividend isn't money, it's sporting glory.

coach carson
-20th August 2008, 07:32
Action please, we have a little over 1400 days left to get this right! No time for time-wasters, energy sappers, internal terrorists, petty politicking or anything short of a totally professional attitude at all levels of the sport. Whatever our interest in the sport we can all contribute. Rather than worrying about everyone else, I would ask what your individual contribution is?

archer
-20th August 2008, 08:00
I was watching the Olympics highlights programme Monday evening with Dame Kelly being asked how British Atheletics can learn from the cycling success. The response was that even though athletics has such a diverse numberof sports within it they could set up centres for sprinters, middle and long distance runners, throwers etc.

The cyling and sialing as shown that by providing the right level of facilities, coaching and managment over of sustained period of time produced results. In terms of funding following the Manchester Commonwealth games they received £1m. Over the period following that funding has grown to 320m based on the success cycling has had culminating in the highly successful world championships in Manchester earlier this year. This has resulted in what we have all witnessed over the past few days. [There was not much coverage of the world championships on British TV, guess the Beeb will be covering more over the next few years]

Fencing needs to not only look at what other sports are doing but to engage with them to discuss how things were set up, planning, management and financial planning. There is a wealth of knowledge out there so hopefully by having dedicated/ full time people working on this project / programme this knowledge can be tapped.

Archer

Hungry Hippo
-20th August 2008, 08:02
The Chinese have been planning their success at these Olympics not for the past 4 years but for the past 12 (at least).

Although the point may be correct, the comparison is hardly valid. The Chinese cannot claim to have been planning for 'these' games (their home venue) for 12 years, as the process of awarding a venue only happens 7 years before the evnet.

Where the point does hold true is that the Chinese are bent on world domination in as many sports as possible, and will sometimes cross the line in their quest, thinking here of the alleged under-age gymnasts.

The 12 year programme of the Chinese is more likely a rolling programme with undreamed amounts of state funding that we, and most other countries couldn't hope to match.

We should be looking at closer models in countries more like our own, such as Germany. Better still, and closer to home, we should look to emulate the GB cyclists and the way they do things, as I predicted on this forum some 15 months ago.

Pertinantly though, JohnL is correct in that we should be looking beyond 2012 even now - there are 9/10/11 year olds out there who already excellent fencers who will be at their peak in 2016 or 2020. These are the ones that should be receiving a lot more state funding that currently is not allowed until they are 16.

Earlier intervention at a higher level could be the key to raising the standards, and the proof of this is in the results at Cadet level, where GB isn't a match for almost all top fencing nations.

Nick

Spider5
-20th August 2008, 08:05
Action please, we have a little over 1400 days left to get this right! No time for time-wasters, energy sappers, internal terrorists, petty politicking or anything short of a totally professional attitude at all levels of the sport. Whatever our interest in the sport we can all contribute. Rather than worrying about everyone else, I would ask what your individual contribution is?

Well, for my part, I'm now a member of a grassroots fencing club committee. In the last 8 months we have totally restructured the club committee, changed the membership fees, increased the number of sessions and defined the coaching structure as well as increasing advertising. We are in the process of acquiring new kit and in the longer term will look to producing competitive young (or old!) fencers who can and want to compete on the Scottish comps circuit and beyond.

We already have some competitive fencers at our club but to date their achievements have largely been despite the club not because of it. Given that we're all amateurs in the sense that we have day jobs I'm not sure what else we're supposed to be doing for 2012 but we'll do our best.

Any helpful suggestions / support /money from the powers that be would be gratefully received. Speaking personally it would be good if we could get a high quality coaching and reffing team up here to do a workshop to give us some training ideas, technical tips and help standardise the reffing at all levels of British competition.

Foilling Around
-20th August 2008, 09:31
Action please, we have a little over 1400 days left to get this right! No time for time-wasters, energy sappers, internal terrorists, petty politicking or anything short of a totally professional attitude at all levels of the sport. Whatever our interest in the sport we can all contribute. Rather than worrying about everyone else, I would ask what your individual contribution is?

Problem is that on persons "internal terrorism and petty politicing" is another persons attempt to change things for the better from a direction that think will not work.

Marcos
-20th August 2008, 09:42
Maybe GBR Fencing needs to box clever as regards 2012....

what are the team events for 2012?

maye you abandon the weapon that is not being represented.

So if there is no WF team, convert all your top WF fencers to fence epee and sabre

coach carson
-20th August 2008, 10:00
Problem is that on persons "internal terrorism and petty politicing" is another persons attempt to change things for the better from a direction that think will not work.

Attempting to change things for the better...I like the sound of that! But it's actions that make change. If there is something needing done, get on and do it, no point in waiting for a committe to come round to your way of thinking.

hokers
-20th August 2008, 10:05
I think at the moment creating a realistic game would be impossible.


See the Sword Fighting game in the forthcoming "Wii Sports Island". Includes the new ultra-sensitive controller addon. Will generate a lot of interest in the sport, hopefully persuade a lot more people to participate.

I think we need to

a) do more team competitions (seriously there's pretty much nothing apart from the nationals)

b) Build some permanent, public salles. There are 21 velodromes in the UK. How many permanent salles open to the public all day?

c) Get our best fencers competing more domestically to raise the standard of competition in the UK. Then we might not have to go to french domestics.

d) Get our best fencers together more often. Couple of top 50 training camps a year? Tier system like in the US?

silvercross
-20th August 2008, 11:08
I think GBR fencing is not that far off from getting there, to be honest. The performance of the RK, AO'C, and ME were good, and all three can look to take the experience and improve in the coming FIE season.

My home country sent one fencer only, and I think she did remarkably well, though she lost to Duplitzer 10-15 in the round of 16.

She admits her preparations for the event started woefully late (only four months), but she was sent to train in Spain (Santiago de Compostela) with the Spanish Men's Epee Squad and I have to admit, from the photos I saw of the training centre, I was just blown away by the quality of the facilities.

Spain is not traditionally seen as a powerhouse of European Fencing, but the training centre had nothing to be envious about from Italian, German, or Fench fencing salles.

I digress a bit with the comparison of the training centres (though perhaps the fact that these centres exist in cities of countries that are in the medals table helps in the athlete preparation).

I wonder if in some part, the psychological preparation/outlook might be missing a bit.

In the case of Panama (I only use it because I am familiar with it), and our one fencing rep, it was immensely frustrating for her to have to endure the uncertainty of her training schedule and financing (and all the problems our own Olympics Committee ended up in 48 hours prior to the start of the games),

BUT


There is something special about having an entire nation hanging on every stroke of your blade and knowing that no matter what, they are behind you that spurs you on. I had friends who do not fence and are not familiar with the sport (which is the majority of Panamanians) ask me about it and whether or not I had also stayed up until 3:00am to watch her bouts. This is the fervour that is stirred by the Olympics, and the athletes know that the eyes of 3 and a half million people (Panama is a small country) look at them longingly, and live vicariously through their exploits. EVERY athlete is special.

I can't help but feel that this might have been lacking (severely) for GBR fencers, who, through no fault of their own, were simply not given that '12th man' encouragement because the country (or in the special case of the UK, 'Countries') were looking elsewhere at a plethora of events brits were involved in. We as a fencing community stayed in touch with their experience in Beijing, but perhaps a broader feeling of 'national sense of destiny' might have benefitted them, and might be the added 'edge' needed to medal more consistently (because GBR fencers do medal in international events, just not consistently).

I know it's not applicable to all cases, but it's worth adding to the discussions.:)

TomA
-20th August 2008, 11:23
See the Sword Fighting game in the forthcoming "Wii Sports Island". Includes the new ultra-sensitive controller addon I have seen it, but I've also seen how people have already worked out how to 'cheat' it, despite the add-on. The next generation consoles after the Wii may well make it more feasible, if they continue down the motion sensor path, but the current generation won't have anything like the finesse required for a 'proper' fencing game.

As a note, the add-on, from what is known about it, appears to have the effect in reality of 'taking the brakes off' as a way of picking up smaller movements, rather than actually increasing how sensitive the Wii Remote is in design. In English, this means that the remote without the add-on would accomodate for some excess/involuntary movement, whereas now it doesn't. It still doesn't actually much increase the ability of the remote to pick up thrusting movements, or rolling movements, and a couple of others as well. It also doesn't provide any resistance or weight simulation.

It might just work for sabre, but I couldn't imagine it doing the same for foil or epee. Maybe a sabre game as part of an Olympic Games package, similar to Wii Sports?

Foilling Around
-20th August 2008, 11:37
Attempting to change things for the better...I like the sound of that! But it's actions that make change. If there is something needing done, get on and do it, no point in waiting for a committe to come round to your way of thinking.

Very true, but we are not exactly a democratic organisation, where you can put forward you point and get elected on it. We have the veneer of that in the board election, but I for example am on the Foil Committee just because someone thought it would be a good idea to ask me!

Unfortunately you only tend to get the chance to influence things if you get on the inside, and in many cases you only get on the inside if the people already making the decisions like you.

Keith.A.Smith
-20th August 2008, 11:47
Dear All,

Keep the ideas coming although we have alrady discussed most of them already.

I agree totally with Coach Carson about action.

I know it is easy for JohnL to mock my 'coming back with ideas' comment from Beijing but these are additional ideas. WE have made massive progress since 2000 but need to increase it and quickly

I as a President am having to work against failure in Olympic Terms since 1964 for GB and we need to make real changes. We have made progress and we wil make much more by London 2012. No point comparing ourselves with China but Romania with two medals is interesting for example and also Germany these days.

It is worth noting thast we must think to 2016 and 2020 also.

Cuycling is fantastic but has had tremendous funding ever since 1996 and the Team GB disaster of one Gold medal in total.(as has rowing and sailing)

Do not think we are not working on this. It as always easy for arm chair critics to mock but what have they contributed on the piste or off in Olympic or World Championships terms?

Spain is also interesting and Japan who both won their first fencing medals in Beijing.

There was also am elemenet of luck involved. If Richard had won against Joppich who knows but he lost by one hit and that is sport.

We are meeting in September with UK Sport but I am sure they will stress commitment from fencers (not careers, university places etc), better coaching and better organised coaching an dtargetteing successful weapons.

In London 2012 we will also have home advantage. Every time a Chinese fencer fenced the crowd was magnificent in their support and the FIE nervous about refereeing problems etc for the Chinese.

We all need to be determined for GB success and negativity has no part in that. My only concern will fencers and coaches be prepared tp dedicate their whole lives for 4 years to success that is what many of the medal winners have done before Beijing and several young ones are now retiring to resume a normal life.

Best wishes,

Keith

Keith.A.Smith
-20th August 2008, 11:58
Dear All,

Sorry if this seems a rant but on a roll now.

WE have talented fencers who need to totally commit themselves. It may be we need to focus on fewer and support them more. UK Sport and others are not interested in lifestyle problems such as jobs, careers, university, etc.

In 2007/8 we had 3 Olympians,(many european countries had none) a European Silver medallist, a European Cadet Bronze medallist, a Cadet World Bronze medallist, a Men's Foil team that came 5th in the European Championships at senior level, a MFT that came in the top 4 of an FIE GP Team event. We had a bronze medallist at the World University Games. These are all very encouraging and indeed our best senior results for years. We also have other fencers who have sporadically produced excellent results and a WS team making progress and many other talented individuals.

Do not forget Richard made the top 8 in Athens

I am certain that several fencers will dedicate themselves full time to fencing for London 2012.

WE also need to look to 2016 and 2020 as it has taken many sports 8 years plus of funding and we only came on stream with this major funding in 2006.

I do think we need to look at coaching provision and organisation and above all attitudnal changes at all levels.

If you listen to many of thre medal winners in Beijing they have given up everything to win that medal. Now we need to do the same.

It will also be interesting to see funding per medal in Team GB.

Keith

rugmike
-20th August 2008, 12:51
I was quite surprised at the number of GB medal winners who are graduates, or the equivalent - and not all in Sports related fields, either.

hokers
-20th August 2008, 12:59
Any sign of any funding for a permanent national fencing centre Keith?
I know there were some discussions about what might happen to the money saved by not building the temporary fencing venue for 2012?

Any more news on TFC Gold?

silvercross
-20th August 2008, 13:11
Has BF explored the option of building a sport-specific venue together with another sport in a similar/slightly better financial position (let's say, for example, table tennis) as a means of financing such a venue?

Tubby
-20th August 2008, 13:19
WE have talented fencers who need to totally commit themselves. It may be we need to focus on fewer and support them more. UK Sport and others are not interested in lifestyle problems such as jobs, careers, university, etc. .....

.... If you listen to many of thre medal winners in Beijing they have given up everything to win that medal. Now we need to do the same.

It's all and well that UK Sport does not give a hoot about jobs, careers etc the funding of athletes that get to the programme in other sports gives those prospective athletes something to aim for. What is fencing's template? As a parent of a young fencer of very modest ability what is there to encourage me to keep my child in the sport when it comes to making a choice between her sport and her education? Why is it all or nothing? Is A O'C such an exceptional human as to be unique and have both a great fencing career ahead of him whilst still studying which cannot be a model for anyone else?

What information is there for parents to evaluate when making a decision? If someone gets on the pathway or other programme what does that mean financially? Who pays for what? Would it cost the parent the same as that of a university education to give their child a shot of olympic glory? And if they fail?

The Americans seem to be able to knock out World and Olympic Champions and medallists who are still in "full time" education. And UK Sport writes that inconvenient truth off?

I want the best I can provide for my child, all parents do don't they? It's us who really make the decision when guiding them and giving them support, and what for? A fantasy of a medal / long shot at qualification?

When I look beyond non selection what net is there for those who do not succeed? So how do I make a decision? Based on what I have been able to see if its a case of in or out, I cannot gamble with my child's future and what I see before me suggests its too big a gamble so I'm out.

On a slightly more up beat note:
Has anyone tried to link clubs to larger more established sporting institutions therefore taking advantage of facilities and support infrastructure e.g. what if we followed the Barca model and had a Man Utd fencing team or Yorkshire County Cricket fencing team?

Tubby
-20th August 2008, 13:26
Has BF explored the option of building a sport-specific venue together with another sport in a similar/slightly better financial position (let's say, for example, table tennis) as a means of financing such a venue?
I think Truro had something similar in mind with some other martial arts but I'm not sure exactly of their model.

silvercross
-20th August 2008, 13:32
It's all and well that UK Sport does not give a hoot about jobs, careers etc the funding of athletes that get to the programme in other sports gives those prospective athletes something to aim for. What is fencing's template? As a parent of a young fencer of very modest ability what is there to encourage me to keep my child in the sport when it comes to making a choice between her sport and her education? Why is it all or nothing? Is A O'C such an exceptional human as to be unique and have both a great fencing career ahead of him whilst still studying which cannot be a model for anyone else?

What information is there for parents to evaluate when making a decision? If someone gets on the pathway or other programme what does that mean financially? Who pays for what? Would it cost the parent the same as that of a university education to give their child a shot of olympic glory? And if they fail?

The Americans seem to be able to knock out World and Olympic Champions and medallists who are still in "full time" education. And UK Sport writes that inconvenient truth off?

I want the best I can provide for my child, all parents do don't they? It's us who really make the decision when guiding them and giving them support, and what for? A fantasy of a medal / long shot at qualification?

When I look beyond non selection what net is there for those who do not succeed? So how do I make a decision? Based on what I have been able to see if its a case of in or out, I cannot gamble with my child's future and what I see before me suggests its too big a gamble so I'm out.

On a slightly more up beat note:
Has anyone tried to link clubs to larger more established sporting institutions therefore taking advantage of facilities and support infrastructure e.g. what if we followed the Barca model and had a Man Utd fencing team or Yorkshire County Cricket fencing team?

The Education v. Sports debate and how unis should/should not be involved has been flogged like a dead horse for a while in this forum, and it is still very much relevant.

Liverpool uni recently sent an e-mail to all students looking for talented athletes to sponsor for 2012 (I attach it here):

--------------------------------------------

Dear Student,

Are you a GIRL4GOLD or do you know somebody who could be?
Do you need a fresh sporting challenge at The University of Liverpool?

If so please read on.....

The search is on for athletic girls who have what it takes to win Olympic gold.

UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport (EIS) are searching for highly competitive sportswomen with the potential to become Olympic champions in cycling and other targeted Olympic sports (bob skeleton, canoeing, modern pentathlon, rowing and sailing) in time for London 2012. GIRLS4GOLD is the single most extensive female sporting talent recruitment drive ever undertaken in Great Britain.

Please see the attached GIRLS4GOLD flyer aimed at recruiting for LONDON 2012.

In addition the search is also on at the University of Liverpool for male and female students who may wish to start/switch to a new sport. Sports such as Rowing, Volleyball, Canoe Polo and others are looking for you if you are;

* Have played sport at a competitive level.
* Tall, fit and strong (or prepared to become so).
* Up for the challenge of helping the University of Liverpool reach the top tier of British University sport.

To obtain more information visit www.liv.ac.uk/sports (http://www.liv.ac.uk/sports) or contact Hannah Whitton hwhitton@liv.ac.uk.

-------------------------------

While fencing is not listed as one of the sports, I was first to recommend one of our own as a possible consideration for the programme (though I have to dissagree with the 'Tall' requirement. Valentina Vezzali is not the tallest foilist in the world, she does have THREE OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS).

I think universities SHOULD have some form of active participation in the development of athletes, though in the case of the US universities do get some form of 'reward' from having talented athletes in their ranks.

Baldric
-20th August 2008, 13:44
It's all and well that UK Sport does not give a hoot about jobs, careers .........[lots of stuff every parent would agree with]...... I cannot gamble with my child's future and what I see before me suggests its too big a gamble so I'm out.

Aye. This is the nub.

I wonder if Chris Hoy's parents told him that there was no money in cycling, and he should get himself a proper job? I bet they thought it, even if they didn't say it.

It is a big gamble - at least the crunch decision comes relatively late in life, compared to gymnastics for example.

I wonder if the decisions we make at 18 or 19 have quite the impact that we think they have on our lives. If you want to be an architect or a lawyer or a doctor, I guess it helps to do the relevant degree - but how many of us are now doing what we planned to do at 18?

My 3 years of history and politics were very interesting - now I sell toilets for a living! Not quite what I expected.


There are things that can be done to prepare a "plan B", but the tough fact is that Olympic medallists give up lots of things in order to achieve what they achieve. Every choice we make in in life involves sacrificing some other option.

Choosing NOT to go for gold is a perfectly sensible option for most people. Maybe only manic obsessives need apply?

pinkelephant
-20th August 2008, 14:01
A university degree can be put off almost indefintely - there are many, many mature students in our universities (not to mention all the immature ones;) ). It is also possible to study part time with the Open University, keeping the brain ticking over during those times when the body is recovering from the latest training session. It need not be an "either/or" choice - just a choice of timing.

Foilling Around
-20th August 2008, 14:12
Aye. This is the nub.

I wonder if Chris Hoy's parents told him that there was no money in cycling, and he should get himself a proper job? I bet they thought it, even if they didn't say it.

It is a big gamble - at least the crunch decision comes relatively late in life, compared to gymnastics for example.

I wonder if the decisions we make at 18 or 19 have quite the impact that we think they have on our lives. If you want to be an architect or a lawyer or a doctor, I guess it helps to do the relevant degree - but how many of us are now doing what we planned to do at 18?

My 3 years of history and politics were very interesting - now I sell toilets for a living! Not quite what I expected.


There are things that can be done to prepare a "plan B", but the tough fact is that Olympic medallists give up lots of things in order to achieve what they achieve. Every choice we make in in life involves sacrificing some other option.

Choosing NOT to go for gold is a perfectly sensible option for most people. Maybe only manic obsessives need apply?

Reaching into the depths of my memory, the term "opportunity cost" come to mind.

By which I mean - in taking one option of what to do with your time/money, what are you giving up as an alternative.

Rdb811
-20th August 2008, 14:13
After all, an ability to focus on a goal, set targets etc etc are likekely to impress prospective employers.

I think it was McKinsey's who only recruited Firts with Blues.

Keith.A.Smith
-20th August 2008, 16:13
Dear All,

I am not saying I agree with UK Sport over education and olympic success but it is a strongly held view and they have a great deal of data to support them.

Also some countries are very flexible in their degrees.

Rebecca Ward sys she may now retire to concentrate on her degree as does Sada Jacobson

Incidentally Alex O'Connell was not funded at all by UK Sport in the past four years. He gained an Olympic Scholarship after winning the 2005 World Cadet Championships that BFA applied for and the BOA supported.

Keith

Ronald Velden
-20th August 2008, 16:27
I understand that Christian Peeters one of the architects of the successful
French Programme is coaching next week in Aldershot at the TASS Programme,which is being organized by James Williams. This will provide
the BFA with an ideal opportunity to learn about the 'inner secrets' of
their success since he is one of the main architects at the Federation of
their success.

This week his protege Mathieu Gourdain [double Olympic Silver Medallist in
Sydney] was coaching at Camden and discussed with me the main differences
between Britain and France.

These are:

1 National Senior Levels. Squads of 12 fencers in each weapon run by
a National Coach and Assistant paid by Federation.

2. Cadet level programmes focussed on perhaps half a dozen strong clubs
in dedicated regional centres. for each weapon. The coaches here come
mainly from an elite international fencing background and are mainly paid
expenses.

3. A professional coach educational system, which does not suffer the
anomalies of the British System.

4. A Regional Funding Programme, which builds dedicated centres for
major clubs. Gisors, which is one of France's leading sabre clubs will
build in next 2 years a new fencing centre with 20+ pistes.

5. There are also a number of Regions paying for full-time fencing coaches to
work in clubs and school system. This programme was I understand devised
by Peeters and the Haut Normandy Region where Gisors is located
piloted the scheme.

It is most important that we are successful in our application for funding from
Sports England. There are other agencies where we can get funding for
development. Recently I was approached by Pro-Active an agency funded
by SE. They provide funding for coach development schemes. This seems
to be a programme, which might be suitable for expanding our coach
schemes.

fa266
-20th August 2008, 16:44
Dear All,

I am not saying I agree with UK Sport over education and olympic success but it is a strongly held view and they have a great deal of data to support them.

Also some countries are very flexible in their degrees.

Rebecca Ward sys she may now retire to concentrate on her degree as does Sada Jacobson

Incidentally Alex O'Connell was not funded at all by UK Sport in the past four years. He gained an Olympic Scholarship after winning the 2005 World Cadet Championships that BFA applied for and the BOA supported.

Keith

Keith - AFAIK Rebecca Ward has been in full time education for as long as she has fenced. Sada has fenced for many years and I have heard that her decision to retire is based a number of reasons - not just the fact she is going to law school. It is possible to be in full time education and to be a successful fencer. It involves sacrifices and it is hard but it can be done. The same as it is also possible for someone to hold down a full time job and be a world champion - Chris Becker won the world championships with the US women's sabre team when she was 38 and in full time employment. If she was a British fencer...she wouldn't even have been eligible for funding being over the age of 24... Perhaps it is time to start thinking out of the box. Statistics are one thing and they have their place but what about all the people working really hard and putting in great individual performances who are being held back just because they don't fit the mold.

Foilling Around
-20th August 2008, 16:48
Maybe GBR Fencing needs to box clever as regards 2012....

what are the team events for 2012?

maye you abandon the weapon that is not being represented.

So if there is no WF team, convert all your top WF fencers to fence epee and sabre

What do you think they are, gas cookers that you can convert from coal to natural gas!! A top class foilist does not necessarily make a top class sabeur either in build or temprement.

Hassan
-20th August 2008, 16:52
AFAIK Ms Ward was home-schooled.

TomA
-20th August 2008, 17:01
Keith - AFAIK Rebecca Ward has been in full time education for as long as she has fenced. As Hassan said, according to the interview that was published in the Sword, Miss Ward is home-schooled, which obviously allows a little more flexibility. Despite that, even she hereself said she wondered where she'd be if she'd spent the time she did studying instead of fencing.

Foilling Around
-20th August 2008, 17:09
Dear All,

I am not saying I agree with UK Sport over education and olympic success but it is a strongly held view and they have a great deal of data to support them.

Also some countries are very flexible in their degrees.

Rebecca Ward sys she may now retire to concentrate on her degree as does Sada Jacobson

Incidentally Alex O'Connell was not funded at all by UK Sport in the past four years. He gained an Olympic Scholarship after winning the 2005 World Cadet Championships that BFA applied for and the BOA supported.

Keith

This reinforces the fact that we are not in charge of our own destiny. Keith and Graham have to, to some extent, toe the UKSport line to get funding. At the same time they have to appease the fencing public.

Let us hope that Keith and Graham have good persuasive abilities and that UKSport are good listeners.

Unfortunately official British sports body talent programmes have a poor record of success. I would say because they try to fit the athlete into the box, not build the box round the athlete.

Both Tim Henman and Andy Murray developed outside the LTA system and our only decent middle distance runner not only has a double first from Cambridge, but trains with the Australians.

All sports are not the same, the physical demands of rowing, cycling and swimming are very different to those of fencing or table tennis which are much more skills and tactically based.

This country obviously has a good idea how to achieve in sports where you are mostly competing against yourself.

Now we must master those sports where you compete directly against an opponent.

Tubby
-20th August 2008, 18:33
A university degree can be put off almost indefintely - there are many, many mature students in our universities (not to mention all the immature ones;) ). It is also possible to study part time with the Open University, keeping the brain ticking over during those times when the body is recovering from the latest training session. It need not be an "either/or" choice - just a choice of timing. and that is one of the balancing things to factor into the equation. Delaying the education means paying for the fencing and then the education which extends the time one has to be able to earn to afford that. Then there is the other children's education to pay for (thankfully in my case only one other). So one may have to consider trading off supporting an aspirant fencer offspring against working deep into one's dotage.

The other thing, weapon specific, there appears to be such a gap between where we currently are in WE to world class standard that its hard to believe we could really close the gap in 3 and a bit years running up to selection.

Yes I know I sound defeatist; under our current set up I don't have a lot to be optimistic about and I am really really hoping that the new ideas Keith has will lay other foundations upon which to put hope in.

Though my dejection could be that the filling the dentist put in today is making me feel mouly (Jamaican word) and down in the mouth!

Oh, and another thing; fencing camp - I am given to understand that pentathletes are funded to go on a summer fencing camp... its altogether a different world in a well funded sport.

Tubby
-20th August 2008, 18:47
Oh, and another thing; fencing camp - I am given to understand that pentathletes are funded to go on a summer fencing camp... its altogether a different world in a well funded sport.But I probably am only referring to those on the MPAGB Development list.

jennigoodman
-20th August 2008, 19:31
Does anybody else think that a fencer who can hold their own in the top 20 (I'm not referring to anyone in particular here) of the British Rankings and hold down a full time job is pretty impressive compared to for example someone at University doing a degree with only 5 hours a week contact time? When I was a student I had two housemates who were triathletes; one doing medicine, one doing history, they both did the same amount of training-surely one shows a great deal more commitment?

Dalesman
-20th August 2008, 19:54
compared to for example someone at University doing a degree with only 5 hours a week contact time?

You talk of contact time, my son has about 8 contact hours but often E-mails us at 11-2 am as he leaves the libary, is that not comitment.

But he also gets up to go bike to training at 7.00am come back for breakfast goes back for more training and then goes straight to his tutorial. He/we pay for all this!

He does not have time to get a job, as he is doing his work during the holidays (only some of the summer).

How much more do you want?

archer
-20th August 2008, 20:22
Thought I'd just chip in on the sports/education/careers deabte as I have recently had to sit down with my daughter to look at what she wants to do for her GCSEs [It was so much simpler in my schooldays] and the discussion turned to what do I do do if I want to carry on fencing etc...

There have been a number of debates over the years regarding how we can set up a system similar to that in the US. If my memory serves me correctly then Loughborough was to be the template and other areas of higher education were encouraged to set up similar scholarships. But most of these dreams disappeared when funding for these were promised one year and taken away the next.

However you need to look at sports in schools as a whole, do we really have the structure in place to encourage, support and aid those talented children through the early years which really shape the development of those children?

My daughter may be in a fortunate position this year as her scholl becomes an academy with sport as it prime 'excellence', at least they produced one olympian in Mark Foster and will have a talented and gifted stream.

The other nagging issue is will I be able to fund my daughter through to a point where she will be able to support herself in her chosen sport? How many more parents are in that position?

The existing authorities are more concerned about image and how much money will be generated from hosting the games. I don't think there has been a government in my lifetime that has really gone out on a limb to sponsor and promote sports. Its great to join the bandwagon when we are victoriuos, no doubt Gordon and co will be on the buses taking all the plaudits in October.

It looks like BF, the HCs and all clubs will have to do it alone.

Archer.

pigeonmeister
-20th August 2008, 21:48
You talk of contact time, my son has about 8 contact hours but often E-mails us at 11-2 am as he leaves the libary, is that not comitment.

But he also gets up to go bike to training at 7.00am come back for breakfast goes back for more training and then goes straight to his tutorial. He/we pay for all this!

He does not have time to get a job, as he is doing his work during the holidays (only some of the summer).

How much more do you want?

This is hugely commendable attitude. I will say that I have never heard, nor now taught, an arts student (especially one in his 1st or 2nd year) who has so much academic work he is unable to do even a part time job in his 3 months summer holiday! I live with 4th year medics (one of whom is my girlfriend). They have been back at Uni for the last 9 weeks! Plus they have to be at a hospital in Walsall (20 miles away) for 8am everyday. Many of them still manage to earn a bit of cash over the summer and medics are, on the whole, very well represented in the uni sports teams.

I'm also not convinced that such a punishing training regime (5 hours sleep?)is necessary...or even healthy unless you are heavily investing in an Olympic level goal.

If I was to take a stance on this issue it would be that the very elite sportsmen (genuine medal prospects) will have probably achieved considerable success at senior level before they get to Uni. At this point they should have the financial support of their sport's governing body and should not have to worry about part time bar work. I think the governing body should also liase on their academic workload. In theory, if you don't have that governing body's support- then you're probably not good enough to receive it.

Looking at the FIE profiles of fencers you will commonly come across 'student' in the employment catagory. Clearly this is a manageable balance...

I'd worry more about creating world beaters before they even have to think about balancing uni and training.

Baldric
-20th August 2008, 22:05
Looking at the FIE profiles of fencers you will commonly come across 'student' in the employment catagory. Clearly this is a manageable balance...


"student" means different things in different places. In many countries it means "full time athlete, attached to a place of learning for logisitical reasons, and so we can enter this person into the universiade"

Not to be confused with the Alex O'C version meaning "studying a demanding academic course at a prestigious university"

Ronald Velden
-20th August 2008, 23:00
I am sure that there are many Olympic Fencers who are students at University albeit in many cases on PE Programmes.

However, perhaps the most important compromise was Zagunnis rather
than Ward who was a student at Notre Dame University. She took a sabbatical in the year before the Olympics.

On the other hand the World Junior Epee Champion who was trained by
Marek Stepien at the same University qualified for Olympics whilst still
at University.

There are a number of sports where it would not be possible to combine
with university studies the most obvious of which is football. Most of these
are of course highly paid sports.

Alex O'Connell is not the only student who has declined to become a full-time
athlete. Laurence Halsted took time out from fencing when studying at
Sussex and yet he has resumed a successful fencing career winning
this year a European Championship Silver Medal.

Tubby
-20th August 2008, 23:04
Does anybody else think that a fencer who can hold their own in the top 20 (I'm not referring to anyone in particular here) of the British Rankings and hold down a full time job is pretty impressive compared to for example someone at University doing a degree with only 5 hours a week contact time?Depends on the weapon. Some weapons you may want to adjust to top 10 or top 5.

Tubby
-20th August 2008, 23:21
There are a number of sports where it would not be possible to combine with university studies the most obvious of which is football. Though you hear all the hard luck alcoholics' stories about not knowing what to do with all their spare time after morning training is over, also there are anecdotes of footballers with low golf handicaps and RSI from playing on the Xbox. Its probably the high pay which give little incentive to go to university alongside the ridiculous age at which the youth players are signed up therefore they have the challenge of getting Level 2 or Level 3 before they can think of anything else.

wingnutLP
-21st August 2008, 07:50
The Americans seem to be able to knock out World and Olympic Champions and medallists who are still in "full time" education. And UK Sport writes that inconvenient truth off?
I don't think many of them are in full time education TBH.
Becca is home schooled soon to go to uni
Mariel completed a degree during this quad but has been full time for at least a year
Sada finished her degree during this quad but has been full time for at least a year I think
Of the men at least one is in a military sports accademy and the others have accomodating jobs.
I am not sure about womens foil

As we know the US takes a slightly different approach to "full time education" if you are on a sports scholarship.

Unfortunately I think for the british athletes who aren't already doing well on the international circuit then the choice has to be made. It is possible to put your life on hold for 4 years and then go back to university and I don't believe that we have time left to take on people who aren't 100% fully committed for the next 4 years.

FoilyDeath
-21st August 2008, 08:30
^^ what he said.
Full time education in the US is a completely different animal to full time education over here. Gerek Meinhardt, the US' top foilists who made it to the top 16, will be going to Ohio State next year: its full time education, but it also includes fencing from 8am to 1pm every day, with his coach. I was told he turned down Harvard to be able to do that.

Also, I really don't think the US really is that great a country to compare to...while they definitly outdo our fencers, the system to train fencers they have in place is nowhere near the italian or french system for instance, which is why, in my opinion, the US has a lot more trouble producing consistent quality accross all sexes and weapons.

tigger
-21st August 2008, 09:22
I think the point most people are missing is that most of our coaches, our coaching system and our talent support are simply not good enough!

We are too keen to hand out entry level coaching qualifications to help get lots of kids fencing. We then produce a large fencing population with a low ability level, and a bunch of self-employed coaches relying on 'keeping' those fencers to keep their income. Their is no 'ladder' system for talented young fencers, and no support (financial or otherwise) offered to coaches who consistently produce the best U11/U13/U15 fencers.

Quite simply (generally speaking) our young fencers are technically, tactically and physically less proficient than the major fencing countries. That is not their fault, that is the fault of the clubs, coaches and the system within which all the above operate.

Therefore it is only the rare individual who has the fortunate correlation of talent, commitment, funding, access to coaching and decent sparring who can achieve relatively highly.

We are working towards changing this in Cornwall, but it is a long-term project, and it remains to be seen if it will owrk at the highest level.

Regarding TFC Gold, I believe that permanent fencing venues will change the way non-fencers perceive the sport, the way fencers perceive their own training and the way fencing/fencers are funded at levels below elite international. Yes, we are making excellent progress down here with our quest to build a venue, but I can't actually go into detail at the moment!

Dalesman
-21st August 2008, 09:53
This is hugely commendable attitude. I will say that I have never heard, nor now taught, an arts student (especially one in his 1st or 2nd year) who has so much academic work he is unable to do even a part time job in his 3 months summer holiday!

Not sure were you got the Art student from, but he doing ....... (were you just fishing) and the training is not every day (obviously did not make that clear, sorry). He is working during the summer to help pay his fees/training etc, but still has course work to during the summer as well.

silvercross
-21st August 2008, 09:55
I am sure that there are many Olympic Fencers who are students at University albeit in many cases on PE Programmes.

Depends on the country and educational system. (and dare I say it a bit of a negative stereotype that athletes under scholarship all study 'easy' degrees). If you get a fencing scholarship for any Ivy League university in the US you are not going to be wasting it on a BA in underwater basket weaving'.


However, perhaps the most important compromise was Zagunnis rather than Ward who was a student at Notre Dame University. She took a sabbatical in the year before the Olympics.

Plus the retirement might have something to do with not being elligible to compete in the NCAA season while in Law School (I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think postgrads are permitted)


On the other hand the World Junior Epee Champion who was trained by Marek Stepien at the same University qualified for Olympics whilst still
at University.

There are a number of sports where it would not be possible to combine
with university studies the most obvious of which is football. Most of these are of course highly paid sports.

Again, depends on the country/educational system. I knew plenty of people on athletic scholarships in my uni in the US who were on the football (soccer) squads. And quite a few of them went on to play professionally after graduating (yes, in the MLS, but still)


Alex O'Connell is not the only student who has declined to become a full-time athlete. Laurence Halsted took time out from fencing when studying at Sussex and yet he has resumed a successful fencing career winning this year a European Championship Silver Medal.

It boils down to a personal decision for each fencer, really:

-Do I want to dedicate myself fully to the sport for x number of years, being fully aware that it may not pay the bills for a chance at glory that may or may not happen (do I do it for the love of the sport)?

-Would I be willing to sacrifice certain things (social life) by attempting to both train full time and work or study?

-If I do decide to go to a university and continue my training, and a university x number of miles away is offering to pay my studies in exchange for my skills, do I make the decision to relocate for x number of years, adapt to another culture, while at the same time meet the academic requirements and fencing calendar?

It is pretty much an individual decision (though having the support of family members, financial and otherwise, does play a big role), and note that these questions do not involve in any way shape or form the BFA, but are strictly the decision of the athlete.

coach carson
-21st August 2008, 10:30
My take on the observations above is that we should immediately implement national squads with national and assistant national coaches. Support regional centers of excellence Too late to do much about coaching, so buy in the expertise now and start some legacy coaching programme to keep the good work going beyond 2012 (BFA and BAF systems need to change from a coach-to-teach approach to a coach-to-win method). Individuals who are motivated will work their way from local, to regional to national squads regardless of the barriers (sorry, but I think that education, work, finances, geography are red herrings and a matter of prioritising). Icing on the cake and a huge enabler would be a national training centre. And I'll just make the comment that you can't invest enough in good referees who improve fencing and the quality of the competitive experience no end. Finally, I honestly believe that everyone in the sport should look to raise their game and feel that although only a handful of athletes compete at the Games, we have all done our bit in pushing and supporting them all the way to the podium.

scottishsabreur
-21st August 2008, 10:53
I think the point most people are missing is that most of our coaches, our coaching system and our talent support are simply not good enough!

We are too keen to hand out entry level coaching qualifications to help get lots of kids fencing. We then produce a large fencing population with a low ability level, and a bunch of self-employed coaches relying on 'keeping' those fencers to keep their income. Their is no 'ladder' system for talented young fencers, and no support (financial or otherwise) offered to coaches who consistently produce the best U11/U13/U15 fencers.



Agreed. I am only a basic level coach. I work with kids in schools community centre and I'm in the process of setting up some small clubs...however I feel the difference between what I do and what a lot of other coaches do, is that I take the kids as far as I can and I do it with the aim of passing them on to other more advanced clubs and coaches. I've sent a few on to one of the Glasgow Clubs and I'm in the process of sending on more to my own club which has two senior coaches one of whom is/was a Scotland team coach. Still our coaches and our system doesn't appear to be as good as it is abroad but I feel this is a starting point to develop that.

Oh and re. full time education...regardless of what course you are on some uni's just aren't going to support their athletes. I'm a student on a university sports course and I was given hell for asking to miss a few classes to compete in sabre at BUSA...Unfortunately I have to agree with PE, you have to prioritise.

Marcos
-21st August 2008, 11:19
What do you think they are, gas cookers that you can convert from coal to natural gas!! A top class foilist does not necessarily make a top class sabeur either in build or temprement.


erm - no - I don't think foilists are gas cookers (though some sabreurs.....)

However, if you look at some of the top WS in the world, they are converted foilists . The UZB foilist who got a L32 in the worlds a few years ago was an Epeeist who picked-up a foil almost that day.

By abandoning the weapon that has no team event and asking the fencers to convert you inject established talent into those squads.

This would add competition for places and focuss resources.

It goes against the traditional 3W approach but medal winners don't grow on trees, so maybe time to throw a few innovative ideas into the mix.

silvercross
-21st August 2008, 12:36
erm - no - I don't think foilists are gas cookers (though some sabreurs.....)

However, if you look at some of the top WS in the world, they are converted foilists . The UZB foilist who got a L32 in the worlds a few years ago was an Epeeist who picked-up a foil almost that day.

By abandoning the weapon that has no team event and asking the fencers to convert you inject established talent into those squads.

This would add competition for places and focuss resources.

In that case you are talking about that particular fencer making a choice to change weapons, rather than having the governing body for the sport in her country tell her 'we've decided to focus exclusively on another weapon. pick that one up instead.'

Not sure if all of the GBR elite fencers would love the idea of switching weapons in mid training just because it's thinking outside the box.

Clarification: not saying it's a bad idea (nor do I think thinking outside the box is a bad thing to do. It should be encouraged), but pointing out the element of choice in that particular case.

JohnL
-21st August 2008, 13:32
I think the point most people are missing is that most of our coaches, our coaching system and our talent support are simply not good enough!

We are too keen to hand out entry level coaching qualifications to help get lots of kids fencing. We then produce a large fencing population with a low ability level, and a bunch of self-employed coaches relying on 'keeping' those fencers to keep their income. Their is no 'ladder' system for talented young fencers, and no support (financial or otherwise) offered to coaches who consistently produce the best U11/U13/U15 fencers.

Quite simply (generally speaking) our young fencers are technically, tactically and physically less proficient than the major fencing countries. That is not their fault, that is the fault of the clubs, coaches and the system within which all the above operate.

Therefore it is only the rare individual who has the fortunate correlation of talent, commitment, funding, access to coaching and decent sparring who can achieve relatively highly.


Tigger

Congratulations, you've got it. I have refrained on this forum from repeating my opinions on the coaching set up, but now feel the need as there may be different people on the forum listening by now.

Below is a post I made about 3 years ago on this forum about which there was much discussion.

Unfortunately, it has not been implimented in any way. As such, we've wasted 3 years preparation time and the results over the next 5 years will reflect that.

JohnL


"My opinion is that if UK fencing is to improve to where it is an international force there are a number of aspects that need addressing. As we are discussing coaching in this thread, I'll restrict my comments to that.

As I've stated before, I believe the current level of coaching is inadequate and is only made worse by the attempts to increase the number of coaches by training people with inadequate experience/abilities. The introduction of these "coaches" will produce nothing but failure. Worse, it will infect British fencing further with a series of mediocre coaches at best, that will prevent possible talent coming through.

Unfortunately this system is already well ingrained in the UK fencing scene and the only suggestion I have is amputation.
I have fenced in clubs where they should have a notice above the door stating, "abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

I suggest identifying 5 coaches, fund them to set up clubs away from the existing clubs and start coaching youngsters from scratch. The selection of these coaches should come from fencers who have no less than 5 years of international experience and must show an aptitude and dedication to teaching. (I don't ask a lot do I) Let the existing clubs die the natural death they deserve. Allow the new fencers to fence only each other for a period to prevent the transfer of poor fencing to them. When 10 fencers from the 5 clubs develop they should provide the basis of a family that only knows how to fence well. This can then be the begining of a development programme that provides a solid basis for the development of fencing.

A single paragraph is hardly enough to describe the system but is basically to isolate the new fencers from the current british fencing disease. I believe the current system is beyond repair and most involved should be cut out. I say this with some feeling as I know that a lot of people give up their time for little or no reward, purely for the love of fencing.

If you accept that fencing is about fun and having a few beers after pointing a sharp stick at someone for a few hours, fine. It is my argument however that this system will not support in any meaningful way the development of a system of fencing that will put UK fencing on the international scene."

AMC
-21st August 2008, 13:43
This is hugely commendable attitude. I will say that I have never heard, nor now taught, an arts student (especially one in his 1st or 2nd year) who has so much academic work he is unable to do even a part time job in his 3 months summer holiday! I live with 4th year medics (one of whom is my girlfriend). They have been back at Uni for the last 9 weeks! Plus they have to be at a hospital in Walsall (20 miles away) for 8am everyday. Many of them still manage to earn a bit of cash over the summer and medics are, on the whole, very well represented in the uni sports teams.

I'm also not convinced that such a punishing training regime (5 hours sleep?)is necessary...or even healthy unless you are heavily investing in an Olympic level goal.

If I was to take a stance on this issue it would be that the very elite sportsmen (genuine medal prospects) will have probably achieved considerable success at senior level before they get to Uni. At this point they should have the financial support of their sport's governing body and should not have to worry about part time bar work. I think the governing body should also liase on their academic workload. In theory, if you don't have that governing body's support- then you're probably not good enough to receive it.

Looking at the FIE profiles of fencers you will commonly come across 'student' in the employment catagory. Clearly this is a manageable balance...

I'd worry more about creating world beaters before they even have to think about balancing uni and training.

A lot of the above is correct, Junior is still at number 4 in the rankings with little coaching or sparring. She was taken off the junior european championships as being not fit enough despite being number one at the time.
Next year will be more difficult as in the third year of the (vet)degree 13 weeks work experience has to be done in the holidays and must not be done during Christmas break. Another fencer cannot get any time off to do any training as they dont get a break.(doctor). Untill there is discussion between Sport UK, Universities and the BFA nothing will change.

Marcos
-21st August 2008, 13:52
choice and JohnL

ah yes - choice - and there was I about to suggest also recruiting our top fencers into the army, thus letting them train full time, as they used to in Eastern Europe

which is also why JohnL's suggestion would never work.

Not that I disagree with it - quite the opposite - but in the real world you can't lock-up kids and coaches for years on end in some Tibetan temple and expect a squad of foil-weilding Bruce Lee's to pop out

Not even in the Eastern block did they do that, but rather they plucked excellent fencers from their clubs and then trained them full time.

If you want to copy a country then look to Spain or Romania where fencers are taken out of their (single weapon) clubs and given a full time job training in the sport.

Or France where they have a tiered comp structure to ensure their best fencers compete against each other as often as practical.

Or Russia, where coaches are developed over a course of 20 years without the frantic pressure of immediate results.

The problem is not the amount of clubs giving mediocre coaching...the net has to be cast wide, and greater numbers in the sport attracts greater money with them.... The problem is when one of these clubs uncovers a particular talent that these talented youngsters are not given access to the best coaching

and that is where JohnL's centres of coaching excellence comes in. One super-club in each geographical area that concentrates the best coaches and fencers (in a democratic and accesible way :) )

Tigger has got it nailed - and coaches like him deserve the support to do it even better

Dalesman
-21st August 2008, 14:06
Slightly off a little but.

How many coaches train their fencers to win in LPJS comp etc with out any reguard for their future chances as they will not have the when they have moved on.

How many beginners do you see trying fancy strokes but can't even do a simple parry repost, or use good footwork to simply get out of reach or get in reach. "Well done you won, your parents will be please", keep coming for more fencing!!!

AMC
-21st August 2008, 14:30
I think the point most people are missing is that most of our coaches, our coaching system and our talent support are simply not good enough!

We are too keen to hand out entry level coaching qualifications to help get lots of kids fencing. We then produce a large fencing population with a low ability level, and a bunch of self-employed coaches relying on 'keeping' those fencers to keep their income. Their is no 'ladder' system for talented young fencers, and no support (financial or otherwise) offered to coaches who consistently produce the best U11/U13/U15 fencers.

Quite simply (generally speaking) our young fencers are technically, tactically and physically less proficient than the major fencing countries. That is not their fault, that is the fault of the clubs, coaches and the system within which all the above operate.

Therefore it is only the rare individual who has the fortunate correlation of talent, commitment, funding, access to coaching and decent sparring who can achieve relatively highly.

We are working towards changing this in Cornwall, but it is a long-term project, and it remains to be seen if it will owrk at the highest level.

Regarding TFC Gold, I believe that permanent fencing venues will change the way non-fencers perceive the sport, the way fencers perceive their own training and the way fencing/fencers are funded at levels below elite international. Yes, we are making excellent progress down here with our quest to build a venue, but I can't actually go into detail at the moment!


Spot on and good luck. I produce some very good fencers (I think) but there is nowhere for them to go when they move on.

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 14:49
From what I have seen of very young fencers- I'm talking 8-11 yrs old- the winner is almost always the most tenacious and competitive. More often than not, they have the greatest ability to get a light on when the fight inevitably descends into a close quater stab fest

What to do...it's a brave coach who instructs a youngster to adopt a technical change that will lose them matches. I doubt even if you could get a kid that age to do so. You don't, either, want to lose the winning mentality.

You can try and reform the winners with bad technique- indeed you should. I would put more effort in encouraging the losers with good technique; urging them that that they will have the last laugh eventually.

I think a good way to go would be to introduce a 'style' award (an actual cup) for junior comps (LPJS etc). Give this award equal kudos as the winner, equal prize money, equal clap. Even get the coach to tell his pupil that he is more interested in him bringing the style cup back (but if the winner has the best style then don't dumb the award down by giving it to another fencer).

Have an end of season award for the fencer who has won the style/technique award the most. Get Barry Paul or similar well qualified official present to judge it.

As many have said- BF must put ALMOST ALL emphasis on improving the standard of our entry level coaches. The skill level of the coaches who first introduce beginners to the rudimentary skills of fencing are too often ludicrously poor. Essentially, it's too easy to become a coach.

Baldric
-21st August 2008, 15:42
I think the point most people are missing is that most of our coaches, our coaching system and our talent support are simply not good enough!

We are too keen to hand out entry level coaching qualifications to help get lots of kids fencing.......



Tigger

As I've stated before, I believe the current level of coaching is inadequate and is only made worse by the attempts to increase the number of coaches by training people with inadequate experience/abilities. The introduction of these "coaches" will produce nothing but failure. Worse, it will infect British fencing further with a series of mediocre coaches at best, that will prevent possible talent coming through.



The skill level of the coaches who first introduce beginners to the rudimentary skills of fencing are too often ludicrously poor. Essentially, it's too easy to become a coach.

I understand what you guys are getting at, but I think you are making a fundamental mistake.

It is an article of faith to me that even a poor coach (so long as they are safe) is better than no coach at all.

With a poor coach, there are three possible outcomes for the fencer.

They are crap, but stay and enjoy the sport at a low level
They are crap, but leave the sport
They are crap but enthused, and are motivated to find a better coach who may have to work hard to correct the technical problems

With no coach at all, there is only one outcome:

PEOPLE DON'T FENCE AT ALL

Where I do agree with John L, Tigger and PM is that we need to have a much greater encouragement and opportunity for the poor coach to become a good coach, and for the good coach to become an excellent coach.

We also need to encourage coaches to recognise their own limitations and to positively move their fencers up to a stronger club when there is one nearby. Most coaches actively resist this, and its only pushy parents that move kids up (and not always the right kids)



I think a good way to go would be to introduce a 'style' award (an actual cup) for junior comps (LPJS etc). Give this award equal kudos as the winner, equal prize money, equal clap. Even get the coach to tell his pupil that he is more interested in him bringing the style cup back (but if the winner has the best style then don't dumb the award down by giving it to another fencer).

Have an end of season award for the fencer who has won the style/technique award the most. Get Barry Paul or similar well qualified official present to judge it.


This is an excellent idea. I will try to introduce it for next years England Youth Champs. Suggestions/offers for other possible judges welcome.

silvercross
-21st August 2008, 16:14
We also need to encourage coaches to recognise their own limitations and to positively move their fencers up to a stronger club when there is one nearby. Most coaches actively resist this, and its only pushy parents that move kids up (and not always the right kids)

It seems something that could be solved by what many have mentioned thus far, the creation of regional centres of excellence. You can start fencing at your local neighbourhood/city club, and progress to the RCoE. But this also requires something which might be the source of all this resistance: open communication on the part of coaches and coaching coordinators as to what the long term strategic plan for the sport is. Otherwise, it does wittle down to (and you'll pardon the analogy), a bunch of farmers individually raising their prized roosters as fighting gamecocks, rather than productively serving as part of a stepping stone process for the fencers.

P.S. we assume that the overwhelming majority of the talent pool will all be children, but there may be the odd gold nugget in the form of a late teen entering the sport for the first time, or even some enthusiastic twenty somethings who picked it up at uni... (though sensible long term strategic planning dictates we focus on developing fencers at a young age)

Baldric
-21st August 2008, 16:28
It seems something that could be solved by what many have mentioned thus far, the creation of regional centres of excellence. You can start fencing at your local neighbourhood/city club, and progress to the RCoE. But this also requires something which might be the source of all this resistance: open communication on the part of coaches and coaching coordinators as to what the long term strategic plan for the sport is. Otherwise, it does wittle down to (and you'll pardon the analogy), a bunch of farmers individually raising their prized roosters as fighting gamecocks, rather than productively serving as part of a stepping stone process for the fencers.


Lets be blunt, and get it out in the open.

Coaches have an ego problem.

There - I feel better now. :whistle:

Its not just the structure, its not for want of regional centres of excellence (welcome though they would be.) its the coaches themselves.

Coaches get heavily invested in their fencer, often have an over inflated sense of their own ability, and this holds fencers back. It is often not the lower level coaches who understand their own limitations, its the mid-level ones that produce quite good young fencers, but won't let them go. They also fail to recognise that another coach, although not technically better, might communicate or "click" better with a fencer than they do.

Better sign my real name to this one......

Ray Stafford.

[watching potential votes in the EF elections slipping away:D]

Rdb811
-21st August 2008, 16:42
Sorry you're wrong - the problem is that coaches / clubs, having put a lot of effort into their charges then see them disappear to allegedly "elite" clubs for no return or thanks. As one coach put it to me "we have them on the way up and we have them on the way down"

TomA
-21st August 2008, 16:49
Sorry you're wrong - the problem is that coaches / clubs, having put a lot of effort into their charges then see them disappear to allegedly "elite" clubs for no return or thanks. As one coach put it to me "we have them on the way up and we have them on the way down" I think that's Baldric's point though - get the fencers to go on to the more 'elite' clubs (regional centres or otherwise), but make it worth their coach's while.

silvercross
-21st August 2008, 16:58
I think RCoE's at least should curb some of the 'rivalry' between clubs, provided that the aims and objectives of the RCoE's are clearly spelled out to all the clubs that will benefit from the creation of such a centre in their vicinity. The RCoE should be run by BFA or the Home Country, and not be a specific club per se (since that would only fuel feelings of elitism or favouritism). RCoE's should be where fencers progress to, not where they start off at.

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 17:23
I think you're both wrong ;) The problem as I look at it now in Birmingham is that there are no/not enough elite fencing clubs for coaches to send their promising charges to.

I go to the only adult (not restricted to) fencing club in the city (we can debate whether stourbridge and sutton coldfield are 'in the city'- but the fact is they are both irrelevant on the national scene). BFC has a scattering of very good fencers who attend- it can be a place where promising young fencers can be developed by sparring with (dare I say it) people like myself. It has not produced, in its own right, nor enhanced (via coaching) the technical abilities of any successful young fencers who I can mention. Clearly, the available coaching in Brum, with its available population of over a million, has not been fit for this purpose.

Case in point: Rhys. Born, educated, and living in Brum- developed by a Wales based grandfather and now coached by a Bristol based coach.

We are only now seeing people like the Melias and Sam Stockley develop fencing in the city- so I expect to see this change. I am even taking my coaching qualifications on saturday- but we have lost over 10-15 years and are effectively reliant on about 3 people who may not even stay in the city forever.

If I had a magic wand I would employ Peter Rome and Glen Golding as full time coaches in a newly built West Midlands Fencing centre of excellence. I would bring in a rotating foreign, internationally experienced, coach on a year long full time contract. I would have Lynn Melia coordinate all school and grass roots fencing in the region. I would have David Kirby as a performance director and in charge of regional coach development. I'd aim for 500 members of the centre paying 400-500 quid a year membership for pretty much unlimited access. I'd aim for a combination of private sector, local govt, national and fencing specific sporting bodies to match this figure.

Rdb811
-21st August 2008, 17:31
Th problem varies depending on what part of teh country you are in - at the moment we don't have a strong enough base (in terms of club size and strength in depth of fencers of genuine ability) to be able to warrant RCoEs.

TomA
-21st August 2008, 17:40
It has not produced, in its own right, nor enhanced (via coaching) the technical abilities of any successful young fencers who I can mention.I thought James Harris fenced at Birmingham as well as Redditch? Have I got the wrong end of the stick?

I agree though that WM fencers do need to train together more - individually, lots of great fencers have been produced, but mostly at the younger level. How hard would it be just to start by organising regional training sessions?

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 17:49
I thought James Harris fenced at Birmingham as well as Redditch? Have I got the wrong end of the stick?

I agree though that WM fencers do need to train together more - individually, lots of great fencers have been produced, but mostly at the younger level. How hard would it be just to start by organising regional training sessions?

James is a product of Redditch Youth- where I, Sam Stockley, and Han Chennour coach. I claim little or no credit for his epee skills- bar a few sparring fights where I annoy him as a cheeky foilist!

James is a classic example of success in spite of the system- not because of it. Truth be told, I am genuinely astonished at how he has done so well and totally elated for him.

He does fence on a thursday night in Brum (doubtless I will see him tonight). He receives no coaching there and is essentially rarely tested by those he spars with (unless Marek turns up!). He does, I believe, receive some coaching at Malvern- possibly from Matt Haynes.

He most certainly is not a product of the Birmingham fencing infrastructure.

Rob.Leicester
-21st August 2008, 17:54
If I had a magic wand I would employ Peter Rome and Glen Golding as full time coaches in a newly built West Midlands Fencing centre of excellence. I would bring in a rotating foreign, internationally experienced, coach on a year long full time contract. I would have Lynn Melia coordinate all school and grass roots fencing in the region. I would have David Kirby as a performance director and in charge of regional coach development. I'd aim for 500 members of the centre paying 400-500 quid a year membership for pretty much unlimited access. I'd aim for a combination of private sector, local govt, national and fencing specific sporting bodies to match this figure.

I think I love you.....

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 18:00
I agree though that WM fencers do need to train together more - individually, lots of great fencers have been produced, but mostly at the younger level. How hard would it be just to start by organising regional training sessions?

This used to happen- Abi Taylor, Rob Horton, Debbie Kershaw, Stuart Daniels, Sam Stockley, Paul kellet, Kit Devlin, and myself used to fence at the WM Center of Excellence. We produced some great fencers. David Kirby used to take his sabreurs along as well- Brendas and LBW etc. The region also produced Mark Bengry, Rob Penton and others of the loosely affiliated 'Apocolypse' brothers..

For various reasons, which I won't go into, this doesn't happen anymore. As I said, the Melias and others are doing some exciting stuff but we lost a good 10 years...

JohnL
-21st August 2008, 18:55
It is an article of faith to me that even a poor coach (so long as they are safe) is better than no coach at all.

With a poor coach, there are three possible outcomes for the fencer.

They are crap, but stay and enjoy the sport at a low level
They are crap, but leave the sport
They are crap but enthused, and are motivated to find a better coach who may have to work hard to correct the technical problems

With no coach at all, there is only one outcome:

PEOPLE DON'T FENCE AT ALL

Where I do agree with John L, Tigger and PM is that we need to have a much greater encouragement and opportunity for the poor coach to become a good coach, and for the good coach to become an excellent coach.


I'm sorry Baldric, but I believe you're wrong and the analysis should be;

They are crap, but stay and enjoy the sport at a low level (infecting the beginners with potential with bad habits)
They are crap, but leave the sport (Which has just wasted the coaches time)
They are crap but enthused, and are motivated to find a better coach who may have to work hard to correct the technical problems (and there shouldn't be technical problems in the first place.)

My idea is drastic I know, but I have seen for too long British Fencing wallow in the sea of mediocrity that is caused by incompetent coaches.

In the UK you can count the number of good coaches on the fingers of both hands (I was going to say one hand, but there may be 6). The remainder are delusional, justifying their existence with qualifications while having zero ability and bemoaning the lack of talent that's coming into the sport. Unfortunately most wouldn't recognize talent if it bit them in the rear end.

Stewie
-21st August 2008, 18:59
James is a classic example of success in spite of the system- not because of it. Truth be told, I am genuinely astonished at how he has done so well and totally elated for him.

He does, I believe, receive some coaching at Malvern- possibly from Matt Haynes.


Ok I might be wrong about some of this (good start for my first post :) ) but this is what I have experienced when training at Malvern. The club hosts the H & W Epee Squad twice a month and As far as I am aware is part funded by the H & W Open and is organised by John Haynes and Sam Stockley and Matt Haynes is the coach (hence my training there)

I have been training with the squad (whenever possible as I live rather a long way away) for over a year now since it was based at Haybridge School, and has always been a fantastic training night, with a genuinely supportive atmosphere.

Squad members include (at least those I can remember) James Harris, Matt Edgar, Stephen Edgar, Richard Harris, Jamie Melia, Matt Rowland, Gaby Kettle, Nancy Parsons, Amy Radford, Lucy Henshall, Maria Henshall, Max Rowe-Haynes, Simon Webb, John Leahey, Hannah Chennour, Erin Spinlove, and me (unofficially).

Seeing as though my coach was refereeing all day at the nationals and was thus unable to offer piste side support, the squad's support ethic was absolutely superb, not just to me but to other people fencing under Northumbria's banner.

Despite the lack of endorsement from a larger entity (such as in Northumbria) the likes of Sam Stockley (and Hannah, of course) have managed to work with (instead of against) other local coaches, and the resulting support structure is easily an example of excelence to other regions.

Regards,

Stewie

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 19:16
Good post- I've heard great things about Malvern. I think Matt H will be at the forefront of elite epee coaching in the region for decades. The good news is that our best young coaches also appear to be amongst the most ambitious.

Several points:

Malvern is 40 miles away from Brum. I was talking about the state of fencing in Brum...

Malvern, and Matt's coaching, is benefitting James greatly. But it's a recent affair-imagine if this had happened 5 or 10 years ago.

Still not much if you're a foilist!

Rob.Leicester
-21st August 2008, 19:21
Do you count KES/Shakespeare's as in Brum Pigeon? Because that's expanding nicely.

Stewie
-21st August 2008, 19:31
Good post- I've heard great things about Malvern. I think Matt H will be at the forefront of elite epee coaching in the region for decades. The good news is that our best young coaches also appear to be amongst the most ambitious.

Several points:

Malvern is 40 miles away from Brum. I was talking about the state of fencing in Brum...

Malvern, and Matt's coaching, is benefitting James greatly. But it's a recent affair-imagine if this had happened 5 or 10 years ago.

Still not much if you're a foilist!

...Isn't it time you all bullied Mr Stockley into coaching some foil then :p

Malvern, although remote, does seem to make it more convenient for certain members and allows us to talk to the pretty receptionist who works there :whistle:

Stewie

Keith.A.Smith
-21st August 2008, 19:43
Dear All,

This post probbaly will not be popular with some but here goes.

I have spoken to Ioan Pop of the FIE and he constantly says the one thing we are really mising is good top quality coaching in the UK. We have many more fencers than for example Romania and indeed are now one of the larger federations in the World in terms of licence holders. I am not saying we do not have potentially good coaches but they lack real international success or top level training of themselves.)

After the Modernisation programe as voted for by the BFA membership at the BFA AGM about 3 years ago coaching is a Home Country matter, except at top level and this is clearly an area we need to look at urgently. I know the HCs are looking at increasing the number of coaches to help our sport grow but top level performance coaches is another matter altogether.

China thought the same so they hired Christian Bauer for 4 years. GB thought the same years ago and imported Ziemek who has produced foilists at about 6 successive Olympics including top 8 placings from Fiona Mackintosh in 1992 and Richard Kruse in 2004. The men's sabre team traditionally used foreign coaches such as Tamas Mendelenyi, Bela Imregi, Mike Mathews, Peter Frolich.(Mike produced our only World Cadet Champion, Alex O'Connell) and a combination of three above produced James Williams.

In my opinion like fencers who need a pool of talent, we also need a pool of talent in coaching. We need top perfromance coaches and also get thesde coaches to help train up our home grown coaches also. We have more than handful of GB coaches whom have produced success at Cadet and Junior level but very few at senior level. It is there that we need to focus. The truth is that coach training is several European countries is simply much more advanced than in the UK as they have a tradition of doing this and a lrrger breadth of experience and knowledge.

Rowing thought the same and so the national rowing coach is from old East Germany, the Modern Pantathlon Coaches are from Eastern Europe, swiming hired an Aussie with greater experience and knowledge than domestically produced coaches. China did gthe same and now has Chinese coaches except for sabre. Japan has a Ukranian foil coach and they won their first ever fencing medal in Beijing. Even the mighty Italy uses foreign coaches at times if they have the expertise needed.

This is something we will be addressing shortly with UK Sport.(we are meeting in September) Our problem has been that only since about 2006 have we had real funding to hire coaches full time etc.

Ultimately we need talented and dedicated fencers and coaches working in tandem.

Keith

cesh_fencing
-21st August 2008, 20:02
OK here are my thoughts.

1) IMHO Junior Level Fencing (U14 and below) is far stronger in all weapons than I have ever seen in the past.

2) This is largely due to a number of coaches starting kids in fencing at an earlier age than previously and improving retention rates (I think by getting kids onto electrics as early (i.e. before they get bored)).

3) Many of these coaches have fencing as their full time occupation (not part time 'fun' coaches) which means they can attract a critical mass to their circuits/areas which helps the kids push each others standards up due to competition between individuals and local schools within their patch. This also encourages the coaches to retain as many of the kids as possible as it pays their bills.

4) Many more of these coaches are/were fencers of international standard (in the last 10 years) than I have noticed before and use that experience to motivate and coach the kids to a competitive standard in a more international style than was traditional in the UK in the past.

5) I do feel that a coach is better than no coach at all, because at least that kid will get the chance to experience fencing, if they get into it at least they get the chance to move on to another coach who can sort out any problems learnt (though I agree this is not ideal). We all have to admit that there are some coaches out there who have little idea or are so long in the tooth and have not upgraded their technique that they get kids fencing, but others then need to correct technique. Better to get a talanted kid with technique problems (which can be fixed generally) than not see the kid at all.

6) I feel that fencers should be able to move between clubs/coaches without guilt being involved. A coach/club will retain fencers if they offer the facilities/coaching that a fencer needs, if not they have to move or be held back. I agree that some 'elite clubs' are actually no better than the club they were at previously, however if this is the case they will return to their original club in due course anyway. I have actually advised many of my senior fencers to go for coaching with other coaches who I feel will benefit their fencing. I respect coaches who know their level/style and would prefer to pass a fenbcer on rather than hold them back.

7) Things are looking good, however I feal that BF/EF have to really work on the area between grassroots (which has built its own structure and seems to be working well) and Elite Level (which gets funding and has been producing good results in odd weapons).

8) The question - How do we take the good 13 - 15 year olds and move more of them to competitve U17, U20 and Senior standard?
a) Currently this is a bit of a black-hole and regional centres could be a way of resolving this as Young Achievers/GB Cadet sessions are to infrequent and too far away for many fencers to attend.
ai) How do we achieve regional centres of excellence. This is not easy as funding is required and coaches of a higher standard are needed to cope with the higher level of fencing. Possibly BF/EF need to look at how finances can be directed towards that type of set-up in a tie up between top local clubs, EF/BF and suitable coaching talent.

All in all there is a big question out there and finances/facilities are the key. For an area like the SE the cost of land/buildings etc will mean that a dedicated facility is probably not even feasible, however Truro has shown that going this route is an option in some areas of the UK. In many areas a compromise will be required, however without funding and the technical support on how such centres could be created it will never happen.

With time I hope that this area between grassroots and Elite is filled as this in my mind is the real problem with fencing in the UK at the moment.

Keith.A.Smith
-21st August 2008, 20:08
Dear Chris,

I totally agree with you.

Thoughtful and sensible post from someone who is really helping promote fencing.

Keith

hokers
-21st August 2008, 20:26
In the UK you can count the number of good coaches on the fingers of both hands (I was going to say one hand, but there may be 6). The remainder are delusional, justifying their existence with qualifications while having zero ability and bemoaning the lack of talent that's coming into the sport. Unfortunately most wouldn't recognize talent if it bit them in the rear end.

Trying hard (and failing) to resist biting on some of this crap. This is blatent trolling John. Massive, opinionated sweeping generalisation. All but the top few coaches are crap, all the clubs that are not producing elite fencers should die a natural death. Get back under your bridge.

What is the obsession with gearing everything toward elite competition? This is a minority sport, and all those clubs and coaches out there are providing opportunities for people to try fencing and there is nothing wrong with that. If you think the ONLY objective of BF is to win international medals I think you might have got the wrong idea somewhat.

You want improvement at international level?
Then we need:
A larger fencing population with an OVERALL increased skill level, a broader base.
We need to have the best fencers training with and competing against each other more regularly.
We need a some permanent facilities.

And yes, absolutely we need some top quality coaches to work with our international fencers, but there must be some room for beginners to start at the bottom and move on to somewhere with a higher standard when they outgrow their current clubs.
Big fish moving up to bigger ponds, so they are not so outweighed when they go back to the sea. (end of fish metaphor)



OK here are my thoughts.


Absolutely right.

TomA
-21st August 2008, 20:38
In the UK you can count the number of good coaches on the fingers of both hands (I was going to say one hand, but there may be 6). The remainder are delusional, justifying their existence with qualifications while having zero ability and bemoaning the lack of talent that's coming into the sport. Unfortunately most wouldn't recognize talent if it bit them in the rear end. I can think of more than that in the West Midlands alone, clearly your definition of a 'good' coach must differ somewhat drastically from other people's. Care to elaborate?

JohnL
-21st August 2008, 20:56
I can think of more than that in the West Midlands alone, clearly your definition of a 'good' coach must differ somewhat drastically from other people's. Care to elaborate?

It's always difficult but let's try:

"How many fencers from the Midlands made A Grade last 16's in the past 3 years and who were their primary coaches?"

pinkelephant
-21st August 2008, 21:05
John is not a troll. He fervently believes in all that he posts. I may not always agree with him (although I often do) but I defend absolutely his right to post his opinions without being insulted for so doing.

JohnL
-21st August 2008, 21:10
"This is blatent trolling John."

I've been posting on this forum for years and just because you don't agree with my posts doesn't make it trolling.

"What is the obsession with gearing everything toward elite competition? "

I don't suggest that. I merely say that the current grass roots is infected with bad fencing syndrome and rather than try to cure it (which has been tryed over the past 15 years and failed) you just cut off the blood supply until it drops dead.

"This is a minority sport, and all those clubs and coaches out there are providing opportunities for people to try fencing and there is nothing wrong with that."

If that was the case, I wouldn't have a problem with it. My problem is that these clubs and coaches are only providing opportunities to fence badly.

"If you think the ONLY objective of BF is to win international medals I think you might have got the wrong idea somewhat."

I believe what I've suggested is a long term plan that would re-establish the grass roots but at a productive level that would sustain good fencing.

"A larger fencing population with an OVERALL increased skill level, a broader base."

I suggest the base size is OK, it's just that what they're being taught is crap.

"We need to have the best fencers training with and competing against each other more regularly. "

I agree entirely.

"We need a some permanent facilities."

We currently don't have enough good fencers and coaches in one place to warrant them.

In the 70's/80's I fenced at Salle Paul. As well as the Paul fencers, anyone in London was welcome. Pierre Harper, Laurent Harper (Goodall), Bruniges, Gosbee (Boston) as well as LTFC fencers came regularly. What it gave was a great pool of quality fencers to spar against.

hokers
-21st August 2008, 21:12
John is not a troll. He fervently believes in all that he posts. I may not always agree with him (although I often do) but I defend absolutely his right to post his opinions without being insulted for so doing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

I'm all for free speech, but seriously posting like that is just to get a reaction.
Make the same point in a way that's not intended to start a flame war and produce some actual debate and no-one will object.

TomA
-21st August 2008, 21:27
"How many fencers from the Midlands made A Grade last 16's in the past 3 years and who were their primary coaches?" I think that, considering most WM fencers that I know of leave the region aged 18 and go on to further education elsewhere, that's going to be an unfair judgement to make. If you'll let me count Junior results, then I can think of 3 off the top of my head (+ one cadet who made the senior world rankings and went to the cadet world championships/got Cadet L8s, can I count him?).

Plus several world/european championship fencers at cadet level who got respectable results. And I only really know ME from memory.

Aside from that, I'd have to go results-hunting.

JohnL
-21st August 2008, 21:29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

I'm all for free speech, but seriously posting like that is just to get a reaction.
Make the same point in a way that's not intended to start a flame war and produce some actual debate and no-one will object.

To be honest Hokers, I don't really care if you object or not. (Pink E, so nice of you to defend me, BUT WHO SAID I NEEDED YOUR HELP !!!!! ) :)

The problem with the debate you want is that you'd like it to be all nice, warm, and cuddly, with someone telling you it'll be alright, and that we have a good system that needs tweaking.

I say, to hell with that. Get rid of the crap coaches, isolate the good fencers, and recreate an effective grass roots.

You have a problem with that, tough.

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 21:32
...Isn't it time you all bullied Mr Stockley into coaching some foil then :p

Stewie

I'd love to, and he is a great coach- but, in terms of giving up his day job, I think he's getting quite used to his holidays in Barbados! I don't think many clubs in Brum could afford him.. :)

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 21:34
Do you count KES/Shakespeare's as in Brum Pigeon? Because that's expanding nicely.

Hmm...no, that's Stratford ;) And it is, D Kirby has done a massive amount for fencing in WM. I salute the Major!

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 21:38
It's always difficult but let's try:

"How many fencers from the Midlands made A Grade last 16's in the past 3 years and who were their primary coaches?"

Dan Robinson and Rhys Melia spring to mind- but their coaches were not, I admit, from the Midlands. Louise Bond Williams is from the Midlands- her primary coach was, for a long time, D Kirby. Peter Kirby made L16's- I'm fairly sure that some of the Brendas have (maybe a bit more than 3 years ago). I think Jamie Melia has (not sure who his coach is).

MatFink
-21st August 2008, 21:44
Jamie made a L16 in Pont de Sor 2006
Rhys made a L16 at the Eden Cup 2007
Dan made a L8 at Eden Cup 2005

JohnL
-21st August 2008, 21:45
Dan Robinson and Rhys Melia spring to mind- but their coaches were not, I admit, from the Midlands. Louise Bond Williams is from the Midlands- her primary coach was, for a long time, D Kirby. Peter Kirby made L16's- I'm fairly sure that some of the Brendas have (maybe a bit more than 3 years ago). I think Jamie Melia has (not sure who his coach is).

And that's the problem.

If there's a good coach in an area running a quality training program, there should be a list of international fencers to his/her credit, and everyone should know their name.

TomA
-21st August 2008, 21:54
Mandeep Dhillon made L16 at Ponte de Sor as well (in October 2004). He trained at WMCE and at Warwick.

Tubby
-21st August 2008, 22:02
With time I hope that this area between grassroots and Elite is filled as this in my mind is the real problem with fencing in the UK at the moment.I agree, it is noticeable that a number of fencers who were very good in their age groups move on to university, are still in the sport and do not kick on, indeed, appear to go backwards.

FoilyDeath
-21st August 2008, 22:26
Random question: what the hell defines an "elite" coach? Its all well and good suggesting that coaches should know their limitations and send them off to amazing coaches once teaching their students has gotten beyond their ability, but there really aren't that many coaches, especially in the UK, who can claim to have produced consistent, world class quality over any period of time.

Having the best coaches coach the best fencers is a great idea in theory, but picking the "best coaches" is pretty much impossible.

Red
-21st August 2008, 22:26
And that's the problem.

If there's a good coach in an area running a quality training program, there should be a list of international fencers to his/her credit, and everyone should know their name.

In the West Mids, David Kirby's production line is rolling again - give it a couple of years and there will be a bus load or two of rather good MS and MF terrorising everybody.

In the East Mids, Leicester has produced some MS that have enjoyed some success as cadets - hopefully they'll carry that on into junior and senior. I believe the initial motivation there was 'The East Mids is utter crap at sabre at the Cadet Winton - lets fix it'. A CWF is also showing promise there.

pigeonmeister
-21st August 2008, 22:52
And that's the problem.

If there's a good coach in an area running a quality training program, there should be a list of international fencers to his/her credit, and everyone should know their name.

Well we have- David Kirby: one Olympian and probably at least over 20 international level fencers in the last 20 years. Possibly even more. That they are not house hold names is not particularly relevant, I feel.

I have been quite strident in my criticism of my city's coaching structure. But you have to accept that there are some good coaches, producing international fencers, operating in the wider region. I'm struggling to find anything constructive in your posts- rather an attitude of firing off generalised criticisms- a largely unhelpful trait often seen amongst people who have quite a high opinion of their abilities in yesteryear. I think I agree with many of your points, there's just something about how you convey them...not that you are here to make friends, I understand.

cesh_fencing
-21st August 2008, 22:53
Random question: what the hell defines an "elite" coach? Its all well and good suggesting that coaches should know their limitations and send them off to amazing coaches once teaching their students has gotten beyond their ability, but there really aren't that many coaches, especially in the UK, who can claim to have produced consistent, world class quality over any period of time.

Having the best coaches coach the best fencers is a great idea in theory, but picking the "best coaches" is pretty much impossible.

I totally agree and that is where ideally if regional centres of excellence were set up a top level successful coach (bought in from abroad if required) would be tasked with the coaching in that centre if a suitable coach is not in that area already, so the fencers going out of the top of that level will already have the technique/ability to slip easily into the 'National Elite Squad' set-up. This would also mean other local coaches could gain experience from that coach to raise their level of coaching as a bonus.

I have to agree with JohnL that there are a limited number of coaches that I would regard as world class in the UK for Epee (& probably the other weapons as well) and of those some are not able to commit the time to coaching they could be able to do due to other financial/family commitments. If there was a stable, well financed centre we could get some of those coaches back into coaching full-time which would benefit fencing greatly.

Ronald Velden
-21st August 2008, 23:50
Ref Keith Smith [109]

I agree 100 per cent with this view. The reality is we have only one world
class coach in this country and that is Ziemek Wojciechowski. The proof
of the pudding is in the eating. Those sports with world class coaching
have outperformed those who do not.

World Class Coaches are those who can produce winners at International
Level. Bluntly most British Coaches based on evidence over past 15 years
do not have that capacity. The winning experience comes more often than
not from the background of coach and the system.

Matthieu Gourdain advised me that France did not have any outstanding
fencers at this year's Olympic and their expectations for individual medals
were low. They focussed on 'team' performance and achieved some good
results.

Ref: hokers and many others

I agree 100 per cent that we need downstream development. I have expressed this view many times before.

Coaches need to be properly trained, talent identified and nurtured so
that in the future British Coaches can become part of the National Squad
Programme.

There need to be strong Clubs and/or Regional Centres where young fencers
can train properly without travelling long distances as is often the case now. These Centres need proper investment which should be provided both Nationally and Regionally as is case in most other successful countries.

Where I do disagree with Hokers is the idea that you need a large fencing
population. The size is dependent on capacity ie the number of good coaches
available and facilities on offer. Personally I am a believer in quality not
quantity and I am not talking about the standard of fencing, but rather programmes on offer.

Australian
-22nd August 2008, 00:09
Mandeep Dhillon made L16 at Ponte de Sor as well (in October 2004). He trained at WMCE and at Warwick.

Ponte de Sor 2004 is very different to what it is now.

Tubby
-22nd August 2008, 00:24
We are meeting in September with UK Sport but I am sure they will stress commitment from fencers (not careers, university places etc), better coaching and better organised coaching and targeting successful weapons. Is WE not likely to be targeted then? Is so should young fencers who have olympic ambition look to switch to targeted weapons or go it alone and hope to succeed without NGB support?



... will fencers and coaches be prepared tp dedicate their whole lives for 4 years to successAt what age will the PD be prepared to consider potential? U16? Looking at the Modern Pentathalon Development list some of those listed are 15 y.o. (maybe I'm comparing apples with pears).

Once a young fencer gets to school leaving age and was prepared (along with parents) to go into full time training would they be considered if they had potential or does 16 y.o. = no chance in 4 years?

pinkelephant
-22nd August 2008, 07:40
The Modern Pentathlon set-up at Bath allows education to continue for those on the programme - it is based at Bath University, and pentathletes can study there, or, I believe, at Bath College. They also have an outpost at Hartpury for 16-18 year-olds, but there is a limited range of courses there.

silvercross
-22nd August 2008, 09:23
At the risk of opening another lovely can of worms:

-bridging the gap between 'grassroots' and 'elite' strangely points to that time in life when some fencers opt to go to university (not advertising unis, here, merely pointing the age bracket this falls into)

-Lack of quality coaching (by which we could define quality under the strict line of 'having coached more than one fencer of Olympic/WC standard over the course of the past 10 years) due to possibly budget restrictions.

-Regional Centres of excellence as a means of 'pooling' talented athletes together.

I know this sounds like FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE on my part, and if I could fend the emoticon for it, I would duly place it on this post (feel free to find it and post it :) ), but this sounds to me like a job for Superm...

Sorry, sounds to me like it would be worthwhile to continue exploring the possibility of university/BFA cooperation schemes, if only because the univesities could part fund the endeavour through their AUs or sports programmes. Many universities already have facilities adequate enough to provide for training (I always rave about the Sports Centre facilities at Nottingham and UEA).

I'll even admit, some universities are NOT suited to do this (Liverpool lacks the space to accommodate training at an 'elite' level and I will be the first to admit this, simply because our AU believes in expanding the amount of sports it currently has competing in the BUCS calendar, severely limiting funds and training space/facilities), but certainly partnerships with some universities and the BFA could allow for the hiring of said elite coaches, the training of elite athletes (arrangements could be made with the universities for the training of non-students. That's not that difficult). I think it's well worth exploring.

Marcos
-22nd August 2008, 09:27
Keith Smith - top level coaches to be imported

For this you need more money than ever before.
The sport is now global, and whilst in the 60's GBR's economic position attracted the Ziemeks and Moldovani's of the world, the case now is that everyone from China to Venezuela, Kuwait to USA has an elite fencing programme

Attracting these coaches is going to take greater resources than ever before


Keith Smith - size of Federation

What underlies this is participation in satellites. So thank RyanAir!

But GBR is huge compared to most countries. Spanish Opens have maybe 75 entrants whereas Birmingham has 200. But the L32 in a Spanish Open is probably of a higher standared than most UK opens.


Keith Smith - Romania
But the sport is dying a death in the Eastern Block.
Go to the average Romanian open and the entry in, say WF is barely two dozen. But as I described before, the best are plucked and given full time training. Same in Spain. Same in most medal winning countries.

Meanwhile, the sport has never been so popular in the UK. This brings economies of scale for equipment suppliers, and casts the net wide to attract sponsors and potential athletic talent

What you need, and what you have identified, is that the best fencers have to be concentrated and given access to the best coaches

However, unlike JohnL's suggestion (and Pinkelephant, I don't think Hokers needs a lesson in democracy), it must be done in balance with pressures outside of fencing and putting the fencers in a real-life context. If they are to give-up everything, they have to be given a salary that compensates this sacrifice

MrsWFFC
-22nd August 2008, 10:15
Cor, my heads spinning here.

Lots of ideas and comment going on but not much to me that seems to fit into one big overall plan -maybe I'm wrong and the surplus of information is clouding my judgement.

But I've now been called a crap coach numerous times on this forum. Not by name of course;)


Lack of quality coaching (by which we could define quality under the strict line of 'having coached more than one fencer of Olympic/WC standard over the course of the past 10 years) due to possibly budget restrictions

There are other quotes but too many to list.

So I'm not a quality coach cause because I want to work with kids and enthuse them and give them a really good basic grounding in the sport? I'm not a quality coach casue my pupils have never done any more than win Scottish and British titles? I'm not a quality coach because I have no desire to take a fencer from age 7 to the olympics?

This is WHY some of your lower levels coaches have no desire to push on with qualifications of improve, we're written off before we begin.

A good quality coach is someone who produces technically sound fencers - how far that fencer can then go is dependent on lots of other things, many of which are totally outwith any coaches control.

Again we seem to be concentrating mainly on the elite but we need a system that fencers and coaches can come through.

I agree with those who have posted saying we need to improve the quality of lower level coaches and yes there isn't really a "tier" system of coaches for coaches to push their pupils on a level when they "outgrow" them.


Coaches need to be properly trained, talent identified and nurtured so
that in the future British Coaches can become part of the National Squad
Programme.

Spot on.

In Scotland when the coaching system was first developed it was delivered by Hungarians and it was fabulous. I'd have given up coaching years ago if Gabor Bognar hadn't shown some belief in me.
I don't want to produce Olympic fencers - that's not my forte - should I be thrown on the rubbish heap or should I be helped to continue to learn and improve so that fencers I produce up to U14/U16 can continue to be taken on by other coaches to fence at World Championships and if Tash has anything to with it at the Olympics?

Okay I'm not so precious about handing on my fencers cause I hand them onto my hubby and he HAS to acknowledge the role I've played in their development:D

Would it be different if I had to hand them over to another coach who would bitch amd moan about their technical faults rather than tell me I'd done a good job and was actually doing the best for the fencers by letting them go? Quite possibly and that's where having a proper system in place where all the coaches are acknowledged as playing a part comes in.

How we get it in place I don't know but I would have liked to see a National Coaching strategy in place and possibly the funds to have it delivered by foreign coaches brought in especially. I know DSSabre has said use our National Coaches but if they have time to do this as well as their current job then one has to wonder what they've been doing with all that spare time they must have!:whistle:

Okay I'm off to do the day job and contemplate my future as a coach (of any calibre)................................

PS Baldric - SF used to have in place at their U14 competitions a "technique prize" back in the day before the powers that be decided to drop it it was a £10 Allstar UK voucher. We had U10 foil, U12/U14 B&G foil, U14 sabre/epee (mixed). Costs a bit doing it that way but was well worth it cause the kids who didn't win medals but were trying hard to fence technically correctly knew they had a chance of winning and we used to call the names of any who were in the running so they knew they were close and were inspired to keep working hard. Go for it mate - it works a treat.

mendacious dog
-22nd August 2008, 10:22
I agree 100 per cent with this view. The reality is we have only one world
class coach in this country and that is Ziemek Wojciechowski.


I personally would disagree with your ‘assessment’ that there is only one world-class coach active in the UK. As one example - Laszlo Jakab has been a fencing coach since 1970 and was the first coach of both Szabo Bence and Laszlo Csongradi, who were Olympic Sabre Team Champions in Seoul 1988 (look ‘em up). Szabo Bence also won Olympic Gold in the individual sabre in Barcelona in 1992. In 1996 another of Laszlo's students, Joszef Navarette, became Olympic silver medallist in the sabre team at Atlanta and later in 1999 was a member of the Hungarian team who took the World title. Furthermore, Laszlo’s son Peter (who he also coached) was a finalist in the Junior World Championships at Sao Paulo.

Finally, I think Laszlo currently coaches the GBR Paralympic team and in particular Lee Fawcett – a wheelchair fencer who will be representing our country in Beijing. If all that doesn’t get him into the bracket of ‘world-class’ I’m not sure what does. But what do I know?

:dogs:

Woof

silvercross
-22nd August 2008, 10:44
So I'm not a quality coach cause because I want to work with kids and enthuse them and give them a really good basic grounding in the sport? I'm not a quality coach casue my pupils have never done any more than win Scottish and British titles? I'm not a quality coach because I have no desire to take a fencer from age 7 to the olympics?

This is WHY some of your lower levels coaches have no desire to push on with qualifications of improve, we're written off before we begin.

A good quality coach is someone who produces technically sound fencers - how far that fencer can then go is dependent on lots of other things, many of which are totally outwith any coaches control.

Again we seem to be concentrating mainly on the elite but we need a system that fencers and coaches can come through.

I agree with those who have posted saying we need to improve the quality of lower level coaches and yes there isn't really a "tier" system of coaches for coaches to push their pupils on a level when they "outgrow" them.

I really do fail to see where I purposely called you 'crap' in that quote (pulling a John Nash there? The CIA must be parked outside your house with in a 'flower delivery' van. You didn't happen to decode tonights winning Euromillion numbers whilst reading the rest of my post? :p )

That particular comment was aimed specifically at other comments made in this thread in reference to the lack of 'Elite' coaching at the highest echelons of the sport in the UK (since one of the common grievances accodring to the myriad of posts seems to be that there is a lack of said 'Supercoaching'), and in no way sought to denigrate the current pool of coaches (my coach isn't a former Olympian/has only one vowel in his 29 letter surname/has participated in 75 World championships, but I still respect him, find his advice helpful, consider him a close friend and find him an integral part of me enjoying the sport), and would appreciate if (ever so kindly) in the future you feel you've been made to feel like crap (or in your words, literally called that), you use the direct quote where you are called that rather than the last quote you read to take out your frustrations. :)

Marcos
-22nd August 2008, 10:45
More importantly, I've used Lazlo's video's as a big part of my coaching (so he can some credit in O*N's L32 at an A grade too :) )


This thread

Whilst there is some debate abuot the detail, most of the threads here actually are on similar lines.

Maybe the thread can move onto

What am I going to do to help...

A lot of people here have suggestions, but if the urgency is as great as some of the people on here perceive, then surely it is time for everyone to pull together

So here-on-in, after each post should come the words....

"and I will....."

Cuppa
-22nd August 2008, 10:53
On another point, Laszlo was also instrumental in developing the French coaching system using the successful Hungarian system at the time.......and i think what happend to the French mens team these Olympics could be another notch on 'Laci's' sabre!

But then again, Durham could be a separate country!

Beth

hokers
-22nd August 2008, 11:03
"This is blatent trolling John."

I've been posting on this forum for years and just because you don't agree with my posts doesn't make it trolling.

"What is the obsession with gearing everything toward elite competition? "

I don't suggest that. I merely say that the current grass roots is infected with bad fencing syndrome and rather than try to cure it (which has been tryed over the past 15 years and failed) you just cut off the blood supply until it drops dead.

"We need a some permanent facilities."

We currently don't have enough good fencers and coaches in one place to warrant them.


OK - it wasn't trolling because I didn't agree, it wasn't trolling because you don't post often. It WAS because over the course of a couple of posts you said very nearly all coaches in the UK were crap and delusional (and I'm the one accused of insulting people??). The manner you chose to get this across is clearly just to stir up some argument, and that's the reason I take exception to it.

Your next post, (which I missed last night) is much more like it, let's debate these things properly. I don't need you to say everything is sweetness and light, but don't expect a good reception if you come out with "everything is crap, nearly all the fencers and coaches are crap and I told you so years ago".

Actually acknowledging that we need to improve standards throughout is something I can agree with, but I would lean toward improving the coaching courses and getting coaches of all levels together more regularly might be a better way of doing it. How about annual coaching assessments to retain accreditation?

As for getting fencers and coaches in one place, I refer you to Kevin Costner:
"If you build it, they will come"

Silvercross has the right idea later on about using university facilities. Lots of halls of residence empty all summer, with decent sports faciilities. UEA is a great example. Could easily keep costs quite low for a long summer holiday fencing camp.

MrsWFFC
-22nd August 2008, 12:37
I really do fail to see where I purposely called you 'crap' in that quote
and

would appreciate if (ever so kindly) in the future you feel you've been made to feel like crap (or in your words, literally called that), you use the direct quote where you are called that rather than the last quote you read to take out your frustrations

Okay point taken I should have picked up one of the quotes that used the crap word you have my abject apologies :o


Lack of quality coaching (by which we could define quality under the strict line of 'having coached more than one fencer of Olympic/WC standard over the course of the past 10 years) due to possibly budget restrictions.


However the above was your comment and if it was in reference/answer to specific comments made in other posts about the lack of 'Elite' coaching at the highest echelons of the sport in the UK then you should have made that clear. No?:whistle:

I apologise if I misunderstood your meaning but it did make me a tad cross to think that to be considered a "quality" coach I have to produce at least one olympian/world cup fencers every 10 years :eek: .

JohnL
-22nd August 2008, 12:58
"but don't expect a good reception if you come out with "everything is crap, nearly all the fencers and coaches are crap and I told you so years ago"."

I'm have never complained about my reception. Nor do I back down from my opinions.

"Actually acknowledging that we need to improve standards throughout is something I can agree with, but I would lean toward improving the coaching courses and getting coaches of all levels together more regularly might be a better way of doing it."

Unfortunately I disagree. The majority of coaches in Britain have never participated in the sport at a high enough level to understand it, never mind teach it. They then get together as a group of "coaches" and award each other coaching credentials. I say let them get together, but for fencing to re-establish a base from which quality fencing can be produced, they be allowed to go the way of the dodo.

"How about annual coaching assessments to retain accreditation?"

More paperwork, when what we really need is coaches with ability.

"As for getting fencers and coaches in one place, I refer you to Kevin Costner:
"If you build it, they will come""

Unfortunately you've been watching too many movies. :) The problem is that there are not enough quality fencers in one area to justify such a center. (I hope the guys over in the SW prove me wrong.) I put together a proposal some 20 years ago for a center for minority sports and had preliminary discussions with Leon Paul and a number of towns/sports associations. We are in the same situation as many sports in that we need space, accommodation, coaches, and fencers in one place for extended periods of time. We cannot justify this on our own so we need to join with other sports with similar needs.

I suggested at the time, Judo, TKD, table tennis. All of these have the same basic needs and together, with coordination, combined financing, and a will to work together, they could justify such centers.

"Silvercross has the right idea later on about using university facilities. Lots of halls of residence empty all summer, with decent sports faciilities."

Summer camps are fine but do not address the basic problems. The facilities need to be year round and permanent.

I still bellieve in British fencing. Unfortunately I also believe that radical action is required as tinkering with a flawed system will continue to produce the results we are complaining about.

silvercross
-22nd August 2008, 13:05
Fair comment. I should have added the sentence: 'It seems that the majority of the comments on this thread point to the following issues', which I was pointing out rather than actually suggesting. My apologies for the lack of clarity.

I happen to like WFFC. Many of the fencers who have soundly thrashed me at the Glasgow Open over the last few years (and a couple of the ones I've managed to outsmart on that ever so brief moment of 'fencing nirvana') are from WFFC and I happen to believe (though you'll forgive me if I don't shout it from the rooftops often enough. My giant mutant albino gorillas are on the fritz :)) that the club is a fantastic example of a club that successfully manages the development of young fencers. JF is just one of many that are a great example of that and you should be proud.

However, i'd have preferred if the actual culprit of the 'all coaches are crap' comment (yes, you know who it is), would have been the one directly quoted for the outburst rather than yours truly. :(

FoilyDeath
-22nd August 2008, 13:13
JohnL, while I agree with a lot of the points you make, I think you severely underestimate what it takes to produce a good coach. Experience at an international level and a love of teaching has never, ever been a guarantee of any talent in coaching. Many olympic level fencers have gone on to coach with nothing but the best of intentions and enormous amounts of dedication and cash, and come out as nothing more than decent.

A good coach really isn't something you can spot in the short term, let alone in advance, and that really screws the idea of "producing" elite coaches.

JohnL
-22nd August 2008, 13:31
JohnL, while I agree with a lot of the points you make, I think you severely underestimate what it takes to produce a good coach. Experience at an international level and a love of teaching has never, ever been a guarantee of any talent in coaching. Many olympic level fencers have gone on to coach with nothing but the best of intentions and enormous amounts of dedication and cash, and come out as nothing more than decent.

A good coach really isn't something you can spot in the short term, let alone in advance, and that really screws the idea of "producing" elite coaches.

I don't think I underestimate what it takes and I actually agree with you.

But having ex-internationals as coaches is a good start, even if they turn out to be "decent" At least they have a knowledge base of the sport to begin with and that's better than where we are at the moment.

The problem I have is I don't know where else to start.

Our current situation where the majority of coaches have so little ability as to ruin the chances of any fencer coming into contact with them from progressing is beyond redemption.

I would love to coach fencing and have no doubt my ideas would work and produce national and international level fencers, but unfortunately you couldn't afford me. :)

Baldric
-22nd August 2008, 13:44
JohnL, you are missing the point old chum! If we took the line that you, Tigger and others are pushing to make the barrier to entry level coaching higher, this is what would happen:

My original in italic, your response in bold



They are crap, but stay and enjoy the sport at a low level (infecting the beginners with potential with bad habits)

Under your system, the coach would not have qualified, so there would be no beginners to infect.



They are crap, but leave the sport (Which has just wasted the coaches time)

Under your system, the coach would not have qualified, so there would be no coaches time to waste.



They are crap but enthused, and are motivated to find a better coach who may have to work hard to correct the technical problems (and there shouldn't be technical problems in the first place.)

Under your system, there would be no fencer in existence to have a technical problem. (s)he would be playing hockey, or football.



My idea is drastic I know, but I have seen for too long British Fencing wallow in the sea of mediocrity that is caused by incompetent coaches.


Your plan is roughly akin to cutting off the head to cure a headache. Yes, it works, but its not a plan I would recommend.

I guess it comes down to a question of approach. Given a choice between a) 100,000 active fencers of varying quality, or b) a gold medal in every weapon but only 1000 active fencers, I would take the former. If you prefer the latter then you and I are never going to agree.

Ideally of course, I would like both, but while it is possible to have wide participation and the medals, I don't think you could get wide participation off the back of an elite-only coaching structure.

On another level, if BF tried to carry through your plan, the current board would be out of office faster than you could say "Extraordinary General Meeting". :D

JohnL
-22nd August 2008, 13:49
"I guess it comes down to a question of approach. Given a choice between a) 100,000 active fencers of varying quality, or b) a gold medal in every weapon but only 1000 active fencers, I would take the former. If you prefer the latter then you and I are never going to agree."

We may never agree, however I believe my plan would be, a gold medal in every weapon but only 1000 active fencers, developing into 100,000 active fencers who can actually fence.

Marcos
-22nd August 2008, 14:07
JohnL, I have to ask the question - do you coach?

I agree with the basic premise of what you are saying, but the more you say it the more I wonder how grounded the ideas are.

I've been coaching for 5 years, and I would say I am good given the limitations of the Ireland domestic context - the results dometically and internationally support that.

But not every fencer i coach turns to gold...I can teach 10 fencers exactly the same thing and they can turn out to be totally different in terms of tactics they emply, technical coherence, and ability to win bouts.

The point of the thread is to identify what is missing from Britsh fencing.

Centres of excellence where top level coaches teach our best young talent are missing

But what you suggest would never work - there would be no guarantee that the youngsters honoured enough to join the scheme would turn out to be good fencers, or that they would have the social interaction with other kids that would keep them in the sport


what is missing

FIE qualified referees. The quality of refereeing in UK opens is at times shambolic!

silvercross
-22nd August 2008, 14:39
Very silly question:

Is there a set structure for coaching licences in the UK?

In the US, if you wish to coach youth football (soccer), you need to go through a series of licences, aptly lettered E,D,C,B,A. USYS asks that the bare minimum requirement be an E or D licence to coach at youth level (U-18 ONLY, if memory serves me right). Coaches at a higher age level need to advance to a C licence, and University coaches are expected to have B and A licences. ODP (Olympic Development Programme) coaches regardless of the age level at which they work (U-14,U-16, U-18) need to have at the minimum the B or A licence (Each licence requires X amount of contact time with an evaluator, followed by written and practical examination). From what I remember, the A licence pretty much entailed applicants participating in something something along the lines of two/three FULL weeks of full time (8:00am-5:00pm) sessions split between coursework and practical application of skills, followed by two days of examination.

I know the example is apples and oranges in terms of sport, but it helps me frame the structure to ask if there is something comparable in GB fencing.

pigeonmeister
-22nd August 2008, 14:55
FIE qualified referees. The quality of refereeing in UK opens is at times shambolic!

Spoken like a true sabreur! I fail to see how this can account for the dirth of women's epee, or (with a one or two notable exceptions) men's epee. I wouldn't even say it was any where near being a significant factor in holding our foilists back, compared to sabre...

Baldric
-22nd August 2008, 15:02
Very silly question:

Is there a set structure for coaching licences in the UK?



Better than that! There are approximately 999 different coaching license schemes in the UK. :whistle: Riches indeed!

Seriously, all the schemes (I think there are 6?) have some form of gradation, whether its numbered, lettered, or adorned with such title as "grand wizard of the blade, 2nd class".

But there is no requirement to move up the levels. Several excellent coaches have run for years on the entry level qualification - its all they need for insurance cover, which is just about the only benefit. Thats not to say that they don't undertake CPD, just that they don't have the time or the inclination to upgrade the actual qualification.

Baldric.

silvercross
-22nd August 2008, 15:16
Better than that! There are approximately 999 different coaching license schemes in the UK. :whistle: Riches indeed!

Seriously, all the schemes (I think there are 6?) have some form of gradation, whether its numbered, lettered, or adorned with such title as "grand wizard of the blade, 2nd class".

But there is no requirement to move up the levels. Several excellent coaches have run for years on the entry level qualification - its all they need for insurance cover, which is just about the only benefit. Thats not to say that they don't undertake CPD, just that they don't have the time or the inclination to upgrade the actual qualification.

Baldric.

Ay Caramba!

Thanks for the info, Baldric.

Would it not be useful to streamline it so that coaches would have some idea of how the progression works?

I know it sounds highly bureaucratic (though how much more bureaucratic it can be if BF already offers 999 different licencing schemes is beyond me), but a suggestion would be to do with the coaches as would be done to the pupils.

Simplify the different schemes so that you have (for example) only four or five types of 'coaching licences':

-basic (for youth & recreational coaching),

-competitive youth,

-internediate,

-and advanced (call them grand masters, ballestra bishops, Rabbis of the Riposte or what have you).

It kind of sounds from your reply that the coaching system isn't a unified one, which I'd say would need to be brought cohesively together before BF can successfully implement any training programme accross all age groups with fencers.

Captchris
-22nd August 2008, 16:12
Would it not be useful to streamline it

Ahem, do we bump on this board, because I wholeheartedly agree with this statement!

Dave Hillier
-22nd August 2008, 16:35
But (non-elite) coaching is now the responsibility of the home nations, not BF. Hence each home nation has its own scheme along with the BAF and APFC (sic).

Most of these coaching schemes break down into 5 levels per weapon (In line with UKsport IIRC) but what is required at each level seems to vary enormously across the various organisations.

Ronald Velden
-22nd August 2008, 17:33
Ref: Mendacious Dog

Ziemek Wojciechowski is the only 'World Class Coach' working currently
in Britain, because he has produced consistently Champions and Medals
since he came to this country.

Britain has produced just 4 Fencers [all Foilists] in the past 40 years
who have won a Medal or reached Final Tableau [Last 8] at a Major
Senior Championship [Olympic,World,European] and he has been coach
to all of them.

Furthermore I must advise you that all the National Sabre Coaches in France
over past 20 years were home produced including Peeters and Bauer.

Bauer was incidentally National Coach in China who won the Olympic Gold
Medal in Mens Sabre in Beijing.

If you want to recruit the best coaches then you need to look for them
abroad.

pinkelephant
-22nd August 2008, 18:27
FIE qualified referees. The quality of refereeing in UK opens is at times shambolic!

Are you aware that the current ruling from the FIE is that only one person per country per weapon may take the exam each year?

kd5mdk
-23rd August 2008, 04:25
How about amending the statement to "FIE quality referees"? Surely the existing ones in the UK can evaluate whether their candidates are qualified before being sent for the exam.

silvercross
-23rd August 2008, 08:27
But (non-elite) coaching is now the responsibility of the home nations, not BF. Hence each home nation has its own scheme along with the BAF and APFC (sic).

Most of these coaching schemes break down into 5 levels per weapon (In line with UKsport IIRC) but what is required at each level seems to vary enormously across the various organisations.


From someone on the outside looking in (culturally and historically), does the 'Home Nations' phoenomenon (which I think is unique for GBR) create challenges or opportunities for the development of 'British' Sports?

Keith.A.Smith
-23rd August 2008, 17:27
Olympic Funding and Medal success

I have continued today to look at Olympiuc Success and funding.

11 GB Sports have won medals in Beijing

17 GB sports have not won medals including in 5 sports even qualifying for the Games.

Of the 11 medal winning sports, 10 have been funded for the Sydney, Athens and now Beijing Olympic Games

Only Boxing is new to funding and received £5million for the period 2005 to 2009.

Cycling has had £36 million in total since the lottery started.
Athletics £48million
Sailing £35million
Rowing £46million
ModernPantathlon £9 million
Cannoeing £23million
Taekwando £3.8million
Gymnsatics £19million (won their first medal for 80 years in Beijing)
Equestrianism £19million
Swimming £33million

This really shows the value of sustained investmentt, increased professionalism that this allows and the long term nature of investment and success.

Best wishes,

Keith

PM1
-23rd August 2008, 17:36
Indeed - "sustained funding" would appear to be a least one of the keys.

Ronald Velden
-23rd August 2008, 19:31
Fencing does need more investment, but not frankly at Elite Level. The
present funding is sufficient for the handful of fencers with a realistic
chance of qualifying for Olympics in 2012.

Funding is not a guarantee of success as we have seen in the case of
Athletics and Swimming, which have performed relatively poorly in last
three Olympics.

Jamaica,Kenya and Ethopia receive a fraction of funding compared to British
Athletics. Yet they are producing better athletes. It is frankly not just about
talent, but competition,hard work and hunger.

The short term objective for our Elite Programme must be to recruit World Class Coaches who can produce the best results before 2012 and more importantly organize a sustainable long term programme.

What does concerns me is the language of Performance Director suggesting
that we need to win a Medal. A sport needs to learn how to walk before
it can run.

The starting point as I pointed out in Sword in July 2007 is to improve the
consistency of our fencers from Cadet level upwards.

They need to be able to reach Finals and win medals on a regular basis in
International Events and this should be reflected by top 10 World Rankings.
Since 2002 there have been only three Junior Fencers who have managed
this and none at Senior Level.

Our best senior rankings this year were Richard Kruse and Laurence Halsted
ranked respectively 25 and 26. This ranking did not entitle either fencer
to an automatic qualification.

Most of the other candidates were ranked between 50 and 250. This is
hardly a level to produce qualifiers let alone medals.

The main problem with British Fencing has been the quality and paucity of
training. How do you expect someone to become World Class if they train
in the middle of nowhere with limited technical support and no decent
fencers to train with.

Personally I am not convinced that the sport needs Dedicated Centres.
There is now plenty of Sports Hall Capacity and most Schools and Local
Authorities are delighted to offer their facilities to Fencing Clubs.

The future priority should be to build community junior clubs with quality
coaching and training. There are already such programmes on offer in places
such as Dunfermline,Truro,Camden and Newham. We need to expand the
number of such programmes and improve their quality.

Baldric
-23rd August 2008, 20:58
Fencing does need more investment, but not frankly at Elite Level. The
present funding is sufficient for the handful of fencers with a realistic
chance of qualifying for Olympics in 2012.

Funding is not a guarantee of success as we have seen in the case of
Athletics and Swimming, which have performed relatively poorly in last
three Olympics.



Ron, for christs sake, whose side are you on? In a few weeks Keith and Graham will be in negotiations with UK Sport over funding for UK elite fencers. UKS are not going to fund grassroots stuff, however eloquently you make your case, because that is not their remit.

We know that UKS types read the forum.

Follow the old adage - if you can't say something useful, don't say anything at all!

Ray Stafford.

cesh_fencing
-23rd August 2008, 21:27
UKS are not going to fund grassroots stuff, however eloquently you make your case, because that is not their remit.

I totally agree with Baldric, we need UKSport to continue/increase funding at Elite Level to increase the chance of our current top fencers of doing well in the short to mid term. We should also be looking at the current crop of 13 to 17 year olds, who may have the potential at 18 to 21 to be Olympic medallists. If the Americans can do it in Ladies Sabre, why should we not try to secure the funding to support these fencers to the highest level.

Though there are always going to be people who do not always agree on who/how the funding is allocated (I am sometimes puzzled with that) the funding is needed to hopefully create success at the Elite Level which will increase the exposure of fencing to the general public.

This will then create better conditions for grassroots fencing to secure sponsors etc to expand and improve the quality at grassroots level for facilities, competitions and coaching..

Ronald Velden
-23rd August 2008, 22:49
REF; BALDRIC

I did not suggest a reduction of funding. The sport receives annually
£800,000+ for its elite programme plus funding for World Cup events.

What I am trying to say is that any additional funding for the Sport
must now be invested downstream.

Surely that is what most people want to see.

Baldric
-23rd August 2008, 23:32
REF; BALDRIC

I did not suggest a reduction of funding. The sport receives annually
£800,000+ for its elite programme plus funding for World Cup events.

What I am trying to say is that any additional funding for the Sport
must now be invested downstream.

Surely that is what most people want to see.

Ron - my thoughts coming in a PM.

Ray

Marcos
-24th August 2008, 06:26
why wait for lotteries and councils to provide funding?

It's right for the BFA to chase funding from these institutions, but what is stopping the Home Counties and individual clubs chasing their own sources of cash..?

For instance, individual clubs can raise funds - my own club has done demonstrations in shopping centres with fencers collecting money in buckets and approaching local companies for sponsorship / patronage.

you can't rely on the individuals who are on various commitees to do all the work...get off your arse and help!

cesh_fencing
-24th August 2008, 09:29
REF; BALDRIC

I did not suggest a reduction of funding. The sport receives annually
£800,000+ for its elite programme plus funding for World Cup events.

What I am trying to say is that any additional funding for the Sport
must now be invested downstream.

Surely that is what most people want to see.

You are missing the point as Balcric has previously posted. UKSport are only interested in the Elite Programme, extra funding could allow for BF to get hold of new 'World Class Coaches' which would be really beneficial to our top level and future top level athletes. Though those coaches would be mainly aimed at the Elite end of things there would be cross-over to other areas of the sport, even if it just from other coaches working with them.

We should support BF and the home counties with all the funding applications. They are trying to get as much extra funding in all areas of the sport which has to be beneficial long term, obviously it would be great to get extra funding at lower levels, however that comes from differing sources and not directly from UK sport as I understand.

Ronald Velden
-24th August 2008, 09:44
Ref: Cesh

I am not missing the point particularly if you have listened this morning
to Lord Coe's interview on BBC Olympic Programme.

He highlighted the requirements of Sports in lead up to 2012 which are:

1. Full-Time Performance Directors
2. World Class Coaches

He referred also to criteria for funding athletes citing the ruthlessness of
Cycling over last 2 years. He did not talk about medal potential, but rather
'athletes ability to improve'.

cesh_fencing
-24th August 2008, 13:25
He highlighted the requirements of Sports in lead up to 2012 which are:

1. Full-Time Performance Directors
2. World Class Coaches

He referred also to criteria for funding athletes citing the ruthlessness of
Cycling over last 2 years. He did not talk about medal potential, but rather
'athletes ability to improve'.

Firstly we agree that World Class Coaches and a Full-Time Performance Director is essential for the sport at the highest level. Where we find people with the qualities to fill these posts will be an interesting task for BF and will be make or break for our fencing team in 2012 I feel. This is an area that BF will be able to push for more funding for however I would guess.

I feel that 'medal potential' and 'ability to improve' is essentially the same thing. Non of our fencers are currently olypmic medallists so for someone to have medal potential they will need to have the ability to improve from where they are now. Pure 'ability to improve' is limited because someone could have the ability to improve and have no realistic chance of winning a medal due to physical factors (for example a 5ft tall mens epeeist).

Obviously we have had several athletes over the last couple of years who do not seem to have improved their results since funding started so the review process will probably rejig funding whatever.

tellmema
-24th August 2008, 15:35
New to fencing and find this thread fascinating - just say you had the national centre, you had the full-time performance directors and you had the international coaches - how would you choose your fencers?

Keith.A.Smith
-24th August 2008, 16:10
Dear All,

I totally agree Baldric, Cesh and Marcos here.

There are different levels and sources of funding and we need them all and we do not need people shooting us in the foot from within.

We need elite funding, we need developmentt funding and we need local funding.

The danger here is that people post things in haste without thinking about the whole picture and look at their little bit of the picture.

Keith

Red
-24th August 2008, 16:53
A cloning facility would be nice - all we'd need to do is persuade Christian Bauer, Boris Pisetski, Ziemek, etc to step inside and lo! a host of world class coaches where once there were very few.
We could also use it to make a thousand Keiths so that each of them can persuade a different funding body to give fencing/fencers more money.
The same can happen with refs, but would the world cope with a dozen David Sachs? [Ducks]

Barry Paul
-24th August 2008, 16:54
I notice that Steve Reed in the Sunday papers reckons that elite funding should be given for 6 years before there is a realistic chance of significant improvement. At such a Technical sports as fencing it is in fact more likely to be longer.

Barry Paul
-24th August 2008, 17:09
I notice that Peter Keen Olympic Performance Director in the Sunday papers reckons that elite funding should be given for 6 years before there is a realistic chance of significant improvement. At such a Technical sports as fencing it is in fact more likely to be longer. So far Fencing has had 21 months.

Tubby
-24th August 2008, 17:41
I don't know who gets what and what for at elite level, development level, TASS or Pathway. Is this information confidential?

I can well understand that if someone was good enough and prepared to dedicate the next four years to training which could mean a relocation to London that some kind of financial assistance may be needed.

The more people that were prepared to make that commitment and had potential, and needed to be supported would therefore suggest greater funding was needed.

Also if more people became elite/podium potential then all things being equal we'd need more money at that level. No?

If our elite level coaching set up needed to be enhanced then that may suggest greater funding needed to attract the talent needed to put the enhancement in place. Generally if we pay peanuts .... (please don't misunderstand me, I'm not suggesting any of the elite coaches are "....").

What are parents expected to fund at the various levels? OK I don't need to know about cadet as the answer is everything but the CPP weekend, the Quad and the UK School Games.

silvercross
-24th August 2008, 19:00
Ron, for christs sake, whose side are you on?

We know that UKS types read the forum.

Follow the old adage - if you can't say something useful, don't say anything at all!

Ray Stafford.

:eek:

I am having serious issues reading this. Regardless of the points raised by RV, to basically tell someone that he/she cannot post something here (which, as far as the rest of the posts I've read on this thread ranks as very, very tame) because 'UKS types read it' is just completely against the spirit of this forum. :(

If UKS 'types' do indeed read this forum, they should, if they are intelligent, sensible people, realize that the topic of how to improve British Fencing after the Beijing Olympics to produce the level that is required (medalling) is a topic which is close enough to the hearts of all involved to bring in such a spirited debate.

The whole point of this thread, and this entire forum, as was my understanding, was that people are allowed to voice their opinions and share their experiences, useful or not, emotionally driven or otherwise, regarding fencing in the UK.

Oh, and adding my two pence to the matter, I agree with Barry. Longitudinal planning for proper sports development (heck, for ANY development. Ask anyone who does planning and is notinvolved in politics), cannot be merely measured over four years. It has to be measured in decades.

Foilling Around
-24th August 2008, 19:53
Is WE not likely to be targeted then? Is so should young fencers who have olympic ambition look to switch to targeted weapons or go it alone and hope to succeed without NGB support?


At what age will the PD be prepared to consider potential? U16? Looking at the Modern Pentathalon Development list some of those listed are 15 y.o. (maybe I'm comparing apples with pears).

Once a young fencer gets to school leaving age and was prepared (along with parents) to go into full time training would they be considered if they had potential or does 16 y.o. = no chance in 4 years?

A quick look at the WF Olympic results shows that not one of the top 14 fencers was under 24 years of age.

Ronald Velden
-24th August 2008, 20:23
Ref: barry Paul and Silvercross

I am glad that there are some people who take a realistic approach to
what is achievable in this sport and how long it will take.

On page 1 of this thread I wrote that the sport needs a 10 year plan
even if Sports England and for that matter UK Sport are only signing
contracts for 2 years.

Predictably I was shot down for holding this view. People will always
invest if you have 'proved what you can do', but sport is no different
from business. Funding Agencies and for that matter sponsors don't owe
you a living.

cesh_fencing
-24th August 2008, 21:24
On page 1 of this thread I wrote that the sport needs a 10 year plan even if Sports England and for that matter UK Sport are only signing contracts for 2 years.

I agree that we need a long term target, and looking at where we want to be in 10 years time and how we are going to get there sounds totally sensible.

However we have a fairly important event in 4 years that I would hope that British Fencers will be able to do well at. Having an additional target in 4 years time does not have to be a bad thing as this is at the Elite Level and the 10 year plan would primarily be based at the beginner & development levels as they would then feed in to a hopefully successful Elite Level which had been perfected for 2012.

I agree it would have been great if BF had received millions of pounds worth of funding 6 years ago to target at 12-18 year olds at that point so by 2012 we would have had 10 years to get those athletes ready. But as at the time London did not know it was hosting in 2012 UKSport were not funding to the degree they may be able to now.

We need to make the best of what is on offer now and hope that success in 2012 will mean continued funding beyond that olympics. To get that success is essential (though may be very tough). Success would give all levels of fencing many more funding avenues going forward.

There does need to be a longer term plan and I am sure that BF/EF have either in progress or in mind to do in due course. We have to remember that EF has only really emerged as a force in the last year or so and with volunteers in most posts we cannot expect everything to happen straight away.

Hungry Hippo
-25th August 2008, 08:42
.........Jamaica,Kenya and Ethopia receive a fraction of funding compared to British Athletics. Yet they are producing better athletes. It is frankly not just about talent, but competition,hard work and hunger........

Hardly a valid comparison, Ronald - these countries ONLY produces athletes, specifically runners. There's not much needs to be taught there, apart from the tactical side of the sport.

To be fair you have compare like with like, not apples and pears, and select a UK sport with similar levels of skill and technique, or select the same sport in another country with a similar outlook to our own.

Red
-25th August 2008, 10:02
Hardly a valid comparison, Ronald....

Before you bring her up Besbes isn't a valid comparison either, she lives and trains in France IIRC. Then again, it may be perfectly valid - did James Williams do that?

Maybe the Panama girl would be more fair to compare? In the WE she made the same round as RK. Silvercross, how well has she been funded and for how long? Where does she train?

Ronald Velden
-25th August 2008, 10:42
Ref: Hungry Hippo

I think that we are digressing. The point I was making is that British
Athletics received £20 million under its last contract from UK Sport
and that does not guarantee success.

For the record Britain's only Jumper to win a medal was Mason who
was born in and represented Jamaica at the last Commonwealth Games
before switching nationality! Also only one Thrower [Sayers] qualified
for Beijing.

Three years ago I attended a meeting to discuss the shortcoming of
the Junior Athletics Programme at our Local Athletics Track, which is
funded by City of London Corporation and London Marathon.

David Bedford the Race Director of LM highlighted deficiencies of that
Sport ie poor Organization [their Governing Body has gone bust at least
once], Overemphasis on funding a small corps of elite athletes and a
coaching system which is primarily amateur and inadequate. Almost
half their coaches dropped out of sport when CRB Certification was
introduced.

cesh_fencing
-25th August 2008, 12:55
I think that we are digressing. The point I was making is that British Athletics received £20 million under its last contract from UK Sport and that does not guarantee success.

--------

David Bedford the Race Director of LM highlighted deficiencies of that
Sport ie poor Organization [their Governing Body has gone bust at least
once], Overemphasis on funding a small corps of elite athletes and a
coaching system which is primarily amateur and inadequate. Almost
half their coaches dropped out of sport when CRB Certification was
introduced.

Firstly I think everyone will agree that UK Sport funding can never guarentee medal success. The 100M relays being a point in fact where the mens team were defending champions and realistic medal hopes, but someone made a hash of a change-over and all was lost. I believe that for this olympics that athletics was targetted 5 medals, they got 4, close but not the target.

In Boxing probably our pre-games best Gold hope (or so it was reported at the time) did not make the weight so was sent home (and I would have thought the PDs position would have then been in jeopary). But other boxers punched above their weight to secure our best medal haul in that sport for years.

Without funding for our top Elite fencers they will stand no chance, with it anything can happen (well JW won Heidenheim and LH 2nd at Europeans so it proves results are possible for fencers with support) and with 4 years of funding going to the right fencers some have, in my mind, the drive to succeed consistantly at a higher level than any recent GB fencer.

I think everyone agrees that we need to get better coaches (whether trained internally or getting from abroad), a better intrigrated coaching system and a stronger system to develop our athletes before they reach Elite Level and I have started seeing this improving (young achievers as an example), but it is a long road and needs positive contributions, assisting the process every step of the way.

madfencer
-25th August 2008, 20:26
Before you bring her up Besbes isn't a valid comparison either, she lives and trains in France IIRC. Then again, it may be perfectly valid - did James Williams do that?

Maybe the Panama girl would be more fair to compare? In the WE she made the same round as RK. Silvercross, how well has she been funded and for how long? Where does she train?

Hi Red,

The 'Panama girl' is an aquaintance of mine. She was training in Budapest when I was out there. If I remember correctly she trains in Mexico City when not in Budapest. I don't know about her funding situation.

Meg_SF
-25th August 2008, 22:18
This is a long thread (and I know.. I'm making it longer!)

Number 1: Thought I'd quote cesh's post as I thought it was spot on and it may have been missed.


OK here are my thoughts.

1) IMHO Junior Level Fencing (U14 and below) is far stronger in all weapons than I have ever seen in the past.

2) This is largely due to a number of coaches starting kids in fencing at an earlier age than previously and improving retention rates (I think by getting kids onto electrics as early (i.e. before they get bored)).

3) Many of these coaches have fencing as their full time occupation (not part time 'fun' coaches) which means they can attract a critical mass to their circuits/areas which helps the kids push each others standards up due to competition between individuals and local schools within their patch. This also encourages the coaches to retain as many of the kids as possible as it pays their bills.

4) Many more of these coaches are/were fencers of international standard (in the last 10 years) than I have noticed before and use that experience to motivate and coach the kids to a competitive standard in a more international style than was traditional in the UK in the past.

5) I do feel that a coach is better than no coach at all, because at least that kid will get the chance to experience fencing, if they get into it at least they get the chance to move on to another coach who can sort out any problems learnt (though I agree this is not ideal). We all have to admit that there are some coaches out there who have little idea or are so long in the tooth and have not upgraded their technique that they get kids fencing, but others then need to correct technique. Better to get a talanted kid with technique problems (which can be fixed generally) than not see the kid at all.

6) I feel that fencers should be able to move between clubs/coaches without guilt being involved. A coach/club will retain fencers if they offer the facilities/coaching that a fencer needs, if not they have to move or be held back. I agree that some 'elite clubs' are actually no better than the club they were at previously, however if this is the case they will return to their original club in due course anyway. I have actually advised many of my senior fencers to go for coaching with other coaches who I feel will benefit their fencing. I respect coaches who know their level/style and would prefer to pass a fenbcer on rather than hold them back.

7) Things are looking good, however I feal that BF/EF have to really work on the area between grassroots (which has built its own structure and seems to be working well) and Elite Level (which gets funding and has been producing good results in odd weapons).

8) The question - How do we take the good 13 - 15 year olds and move more of them to competitve U17, U20 and Senior standard?
a) Currently this is a bit of a black-hole and regional centres could be a way of resolving this as Young Achievers/GB Cadet sessions are to infrequent and too far away for many fencers to attend.
ai) How do we achieve regional centres of excellence. This is not easy as funding is required and coaches of a higher standard are needed to cope with the higher level of fencing. Possibly BF/EF need to look at how finances can be directed towards that type of set-up in a tie up between top local clubs, EF/BF and suitable coaching talent.

All in all there is a big question out there and finances/facilities are the key. For an area like the SE the cost of land/buildings etc will mean that a dedicated facility is probably not even feasible, however Truro has shown that going this route is an option in some areas of the UK. In many areas a compromise will be required, however without funding and the technical support on how such centres could be created it will never happen.

With time I hope that this area between grassroots and Elite is filled as this in my mind is the real problem with fencing in the UK at the moment.


Number 2: I agree that although debate is healthy, it would be great if the discussion could be moved forward towards 'What can I do?'/'What can be done'

Number 3: At some point the number of disparate coaching schemes was mentioned and just thought I'd repost what I was told recently:

"“I know that most of you are aware but just to communicate with those who aren't, we are planning to license coaches under a SWORDMARK. I have no doubt that this will allow us to set standards, monitor and develop quality in coaching no matter what coach education product/ course people choose to do.”



- Piers Martin, Chief Executive of British Fencing. 12/08/08 "

Red
-25th August 2008, 23:08
Hi Red,

The 'Panama girl' is an aquaintance of mine. She was training in Budapest when I was out there. If I remember correctly she trains in Mexico City when not in Budapest. I don't know about her funding situation.

So, she can live and train in Central America and make the last 16 at an Olympic Games. What's so special about her? Panama is hardly a wealthy European country like GB, so it can't be the money (although that might help turn a 16 into an 8 or a medal....)

silvercross
-26th August 2008, 08:36
So, she can live and train in Central America and make the last 16 at an Olympic Games. What's so special about her? Panama is hardly a wealthy European country like GB, so it can't be the money (although that might help turn a 16 into an 8 or a medal....)

As far as I know, Yesika Jimenez, our Panamanian representative at the Olympics, 'trains' in Panama pretty much all of the time (I'll get to the inverted commas in a second). She was in Mexico for training camps (and in Budapest), which, (at least in the case of the European camp) were sponsored in part (if not entirely) by the FIE. Her preparation for Beijing, which started four months prior to the event meant she was in Queretaro for the zonal qualifiers, and stayed there for the Pan-Americans, moving to Spain for a few weeks of training with the Spanish Men's epee squad and then on to Beijing with her coach about three weeks prior to the start of the olympics to get herself acclimatised.

(Inverted commads time)When I was in Panama for June-July 2006, the federation had a Cuban coach training the squad in preparation for the Caribbean Games. The coach was not re-hired after the WC in Turin (which Yeskia attended) due to reason unkown to me, and Yesika was without a coach until early this year, when the federation appointed another Cuban coach to train Yesika. She has been pretty much training by herself (and with the assistance of her father and possibly some of the other squad fencers) up until that event.

After her good performance at the Olympics, Yesika was told her coach could remain training her, and was awarded a grant worth approximately U.S. $1200/month for training expenses by the equivalent of the Ministry of Sport. It is hoped this grant (which replaced the erratic deal of U.S.$800/month she had been given in preparation for Turin, which was never paid to her and which was one of the causes, along with many problems we have with our Olympics Committee, which led to her going into early retirement and not attending the Pan Am games in Rio for 2007) will allow her to train closer to full time (She is a full time doctor, so training time for her I imagine has been in agreement with her hospital. And no, not all doctors in Panama have the fantastic NHS salaries, if anyone is wondering. Not if they work for the government, anyways), and allow her to participate in as full an FIE fencing season as possible (She has only done sporadically in the past four years).

Short answer, Red: Yesika has had to jump through more fiery hoops to get to Beijing than I would wish any fencer to jump through.

As to what's so 'special' about her, well, I can only say that you have to have fenced her to know, and she is very, VERY darned special.:)

silvercross
-26th August 2008, 09:13
Short answer, Red: Yesika has had to jump through more fiery hoops to get to Beijing than I would wish any fencer to jump through.

As to what's so 'special' about her, well, I can only say that you have to have fenced her to know, and she is very, VERY darned special.:)

Sorry, will just expand a little bit on this last point (and tie it directly/indirectly with comments made thus far about Jamaica's success at the Olympics).

What makes her special? Well, to us, irrespective of world Ranking (she is now 25 in the World, just in case you're wondering), it's this simple fact:

When Yesika fenced (3.00am Panama time), people who know little to nothing about fencing watched. Pretty much 3.5 million people (Panama's population) paid attention to her every hit, which was transmitted on live TV (My sis is a sports presenter in Panamanian TV, so she followed all the frantic action, while only knowing what she knows about fencing through the pratfalls of her older sibling).

When Yesika was eliminated, the first thing that I got on my e-mail was a notification of the facebook group 'Support Yesika Jimenez in Beijing' (which at it's peak had well over 300 members) about going to greet her when she arrived at the airport to thank her for representing us at the Olympics (my being some 5,000 miles away kind of prevented me from doing that, but it did not prevent me from getting her e-mail address and sending her a message to congratulate her for all she did).

Yes, I will admit, Panama only sent 5 athletes to the 2008 Olympics, Irving Saladino won us the ONLY gold medal we've ever won (Men's Long jump), and only the THIRD medal overall for Panama at the Olympics.

But, can you say that any GBR fencer has ever had that much interest placed on them?

How many people went to the airport to receive AO'C, RK, and ME to simply say 'Thank You'?

I'm not talking how many regular folk who don't know about fencing. How many fencers went to greet them?

I can guarantee you pretty much all fencer in Panama (and yes, it's probably only 25-30 of us) have contacted Yesika to express how utterly thrilled we are of her performance, even though she wasn't thrilled to lose to Imke Duplitzer (she knows she can do better).

It is, simply put, a cultural thing.

It's why the jamaicans do what they do. Millions stopped whatever they were doing to watch Team Jamaica, not just Usain Bolt. Millions rushed to the street and stopped traffic to celebrate every medal.

GBR fencing is a family, and we (i'm adopted via one of those oxfam type internet sites :p) have to start behaving like one.

My suggestion (feel free to discard it if you wish): The UK has a fantastic opportunity in about 9 months to flood the city of Belfast so that every time a GBR fencer takes to the piste, they have the cheering, unequivocal, unwavering, support of their family. Make them feel like each of those Juniors and Cadets can do no wrong, support them no matter what. Make it your local Fencing Club trip of the year. Take banners. Make the Italians and French look and sounds outright dull and boring in comparison. Give our fencers something they need.

The knowledge that someone's on their corner no matter what.

And enjoy the show.:)

Barry Paul
-26th August 2008, 09:18
Personally I am not convinced that the sport needs Dedicated Centres.
There is now plenty of Sports Hall Capacity and most Schools and Local
Authorities are delighted to offer their facilities to Fencing Clubs.

The future priority should be to build community junior clubs with quality
coaching and training. There are already such programmes on offer in places
such as Dunfermline,Truro,Camden and Newham. We need to expand the
number of such programmes and improve their quality.

The problem is that they are delighted to offer the facility but charge 60 to 80 pounds an hour. If the club is trying to develop good fencers it needs to be open minimum three nights a week and the financing of the premises never mind the coaches becomes prohibitive. The development of after schools sports clubs although to be applauded has had the unforeseen consequence that some existing clubs are finding a drop off of there Juniors and hence income which is needed to fund the premises. This funding by councils of such projects are interfering with the market economy of sports clubs. The lesson here is the government needs to move back from this market led educational funding system where schools have to balance budgets and are therefore forced to charge market rates for facilities but back to a move sensible sports friendly funding regime.

Ronald Velden
-26th August 2008, 11:07
Ref: Barry Paul

Yes hall hire costs are expensive particularly in London. This does
impact on many Sports Clubs.

Schools like Leisure Centres are now run on commercial lines and
need to generate income from their facilities out of school hours.

Most schools particularly those with Academy or PFI Status want
top dollar for their facilities.

However, 'community junior clubs' ie those run independently from
adult clubs can in my view negotiate concessionary rates. This year
I was able to negotiate on behalf of several 'sports' clubs not just
fencing better rates in Camden. The fencing clubfor example now pays
for Sports Hall £20 ph up to 7.30pm and thereafter £40 ph.That is
a cost of about £1.50 per fencer assuming each session attracts 30
fencers.

I am sure that there are other schools and boroughs who will offer similar deals.

Tubby
-26th August 2008, 13:55
It is, simply put, a cultural thing.

It's why the jamaicans do what they do. Millions stopped whatever they were doing to watch Team Jamaica, not just Usain Bolt. Millions rushed to the street and stopped traffic to celebrate every medal.I went to high school in Jamaica. The National Championships (athletics) and the Sun Light Cup (cricket) were the two biggest school events you could be associated with.

The HOUSE system was (is) used to promote competition within the school and there were also local inter school competitions. You performed in the House competitions and showed your worth in P.E. to earn your half and full colours to represent the school.

The school day comprised very early morning starts leading to an early afternoon finish. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to sports (drama, music, dance etc was not a choice, things may have changed). There was usually a coach or a P.E. master coaching various school squads or taking them to inter school competitions.

Jamaican school kids take pride in representing their school at sport and by that I mean real pride, you represent your school first then yourself. There was generally some thing on whether it was training or competition after school at the school. Facilities were/are not the best and I used to race against kids who ran in bare feet and have seen barefoot runners at the National Championships. I believe things have changed somewhat. What I have tried to give forumites is a sense of the achievement and pride school kids get and culture of competition and promotion of your school. Of course there is also the lure of the Big Dollars. With the majority of school children living in relative poverty the dream of achieving on the track or in sport to get the big bucks is a significant motivator. Oh and by big bucks, the £3k TASS grant is big bucks. So Asafa and Usain are in a different galaxy.

cesh_fencing
-26th August 2008, 13:56
I am sure that there are other schools and boroughs who will offer similar deals.

I think you have been very lucky, however you do seem to have very good contacts within your borough and there does seem to be a huge amount of support currently of inner city sport especially in London.

Other areas are not so fortunate.

silvercross
-26th August 2008, 14:08
Jamaican school kids take pride in representing their school at sport and by that I mean real pride, you represent your school first then yourself. There was generally some thing on whether it was training or competition after school at the school. Facilities were/are not the best and I used to race against kids who ran in bare feet and have seen barefoot runners at the National Championships. I believe things have changed somewhat. What I have tried to give forumites is a sense of the achievement and pride school kids get and culture of competition and promotion of your school. Of course there is also the lure of the Big Dollars. With the majority of school children living in relative poverty the dream of achieving on the track or in sport to get the big bucks is a significant motivator. Oh and by big bucks, the £3k TASS grant is big bucks. So Asafa and Usain are in a different galaxy.

I think that is something that has to become highly infectious in GBR fencing:

pride.:)

(Go out, catch it, and infect others!:D )

Swords Crossed
-26th August 2008, 15:03
I think that's hit the nail on the head. We can throw millions of pounds at our sports, not just fencing (and I am by no means saying that we shouldn't), but it will all be for nought if sportsmen and women do not have enough pride in themselves and their team/school/uni/country etc to really put the work in a nd compete. That has been what has divided us from nations like Australia and Jamaica, who punch above their weight. They are extremely competitive nations, and not just at the elite level, but right down to 12 and 13 year olds at school sports events.

We don't have that. British children (and I speak for myself when I was at school), with the exception of a select few, don't have the pride in their school sports teams you find in australia, the US or Jamaica. In jamaica, the high school athletics championships are a national event. The reason our children don't have this pride and desire to compete, in my view, is not because of the unhelpful selling off of school sports fields, or competetiveness being sucked out of childhood by the PC Brigade. It is that unless from a very early age they demonstrate some amazing talent in a very restricted number of sports (which seldom includes fencing), they are left to fall by the way side and largely ignored by those who should be trying to inspire. No incentive is given them to try to improve, because the school teams are seen as closed groups, so they often give up on sports altogether.

This filters through to fencing, which is available at a small minority of schools. Our pool of talent is restricted by people not taking up the sport, many of whom don't bother with going to competitions. Our standard of fencing suffers because of this. What we need is to increase the competitiveness in our youngsters, nurture the talent that becomes evident early but without doing so at the exclusion of 'late bloomers', as it were. Higher profile interschool competitions and a willingness in our PE departments to be innovative in the breadth of sports they make available to our youngsters.

Baldric
-26th August 2008, 15:17
Sorry you're wrong - the problem is that coaches / clubs, having put a lot of effort into their charges then see them disappear to allegedly "elite" clubs for no return or thanks.

The reason that they disappear is perhaps because you have held onto them too long? If you were managing the process more pro-actively, and co-operating with the elite club then it would be a natural progression, and you would have the thanks, and the kudos of having done your part in the creation of a good fencer.

Coaches don't own fencers. We don't do bonded labour in Britain.

They are entitled to courtesy from the fencer - "Hey coach, I was thinking of visiting Salle XXX for a lesson - what do you think" but if, just for one minute, you catch yourself thinking "I hope they don't go, cos I might lose them" you are cheating the fencer.

I know lots of cases where coaches have traded on the relationship that they have with the child (and parents) and peoples natural loyalty to try to blackmail fencers into staying at their club.



As one coach put it to me "we have them on the way up and we have them on the way down"


If that was a middling coach at a middling club, its to be expected that they would see the fencer half-way up, and again half-way down. When else would expect them?

Baldric
-26th August 2008, 15:32
We don't have that. British children (and I speak for myself when I was at school), with the exception of a select few, don't have the pride in their school sports teams you find in australia, the US or Jamaica.

When I was at school, (long time ago, I know!) it was a requirement that the first two years, what would now be year 7 and 8, went to support the 1st XV for all home matches. A register was taken, and non-attendance punished with detention of similar length. Persistent non-attendance would probably have resulted in suspension and eventually expulsion, but it never happened.

This applied to day pupils as well as boarders, and accounted for every other Saturday afternoon of my life for 2 winters.:mad:

FoilyDeath
-26th August 2008, 15:57
@Swords Crossed

Sorry, but I can't help but disagree with you entirely...yes, nobody cares about their school teams much, but thats mainly because we have a totally different take on PE than other countries. However, most fencers are definitly passionate about their club, as well as their country...the fact that we're actually discussing this is a testament to that.

You can say whatever you want about the brit's mentality towards sports being miserable, but I think the stunnign results achieved at these olympics definitly shows that it isn't enough to stop people doing well.


As for our talent pool being restricted, the BFA is one of the larger fencing federations in the world, and I've been told we have nearly as many members as the Italian fencing federation. We have the fencers, and we have the talent:what we lack is an established, standardised system to produce fencers, instead of everybody just doing their best however they can.

Swords Crossed
-26th August 2008, 16:11
When I was at school, (long time ago, I know!) it was a requirement that the first two years, what would now be year 7 and 8, went to support the 1st XV for all home matches.

Unfortunately, the average comprehensive (and my comprehensive was very average) doesn't have the will or the resources to do that, even if they field teams in interschool competitions. But I don't think compelling pupils to attend games will help solve the problem. There is a big difference between having to turn up and "support" your school team, and feeling motivated to do so. Every schoolchild still has to turn up to P.E., but the problem I was highlighting is that the majority of pupils, who aren't encouraged (as opposed to forced) to get involved by their teachers, will just not care. They see no opportunity to get into that 1st XV, and because this group of individuals is separate from them, they feel no pride in their achievements and therefore no desire to push themselves, and we are left with a sea of wasted talent.

Swords Crossed
-26th August 2008, 16:27
@Swords Crossed

Sorry, but I can't help but disagree with you entirely...yes, nobody cares about their school teams much, but thats mainly because we have a totally different take on PE than other countries. However, most fencers are definitly passionate about their club, as well as their country...the fact that we're actually discussing this is a testament to that.

You can say whatever you want about the brit's mentality towards sports being miserable, but I think the stunnign results achieved at these olympics definitly shows that it isn't enough to stop people doing well.


As for our talent pool being restricted, the BFA is one of the larger fencing federations in the world, and I've been told we have nearly as many members as the Italian fencing federation. We have the fencers, and we have the talent:what we lack is an established, standardised system to produce fencers, instead of everybody just doing their best however they can.

You are right that most fencers are indeed passionate about their club and their country, but the main point that I am trying to make is that this is seldom converted into actual competitiveness. Compared to countries like oz and jamaica, many of our youngsters do not develop a competetive outlook and strive for that podium place, because during their formative years there has been little opportunity to do so. maybe this could be combated by providing an easy to access, standardised system to produce fencers, which youngsters can look at and see opportunity an something they can actually strive for.

As for the results at this olympics which you allude to, it is my personal view that the focus and impetus given to british sport across the board by London winning the 2012 games has driven sportsmen at all levels towards a definite goal, and that youngsters are perhaps daring to dream of glory now. Although I do paint rather a gloomy view, I'll admit, that's not to say i don't see some light on the horizon. But to secure success and continuing improvement in the long term in Fencing and other sports needs a see change in how we approach nurturing our youth.

Rdb811
-26th August 2008, 17:20
When I was at school, (long time ago, I know!) it was a requirement that the first two years, what would now be year 7 and 8, went to support the 1st XV for all home matches. A register was taken, and non-attendance punished with detention of similar length. Persistent non-attendance would probably have resulted in suspension and eventually expulsion, but it never happened.

This applied to day pupils as well as boarders, and accounted for every other Saturday afternoon of my life for 2 winters.:mad:

I trust that gave you a life long hatred of rugby union and the class system ?

Rdb811
-26th August 2008, 17:38
British children (and I speak for myself when I was at school), with the exception of a select few, don't have the pride in their school sports teams you find in australia, the US or Jamaica.


Good !!!!!

Baldric
-26th August 2008, 19:17
Higher profile interschool competitions and a willingness in our PE departments to be innovative in the breadth of sports they make available to our youngsters.


Hi SC

I agree with this and you will be glad to know that so does the Government! After two decades in the doghouse, competitive sport is now fashionable again.

There are now funded competition managers (about 60 or 70) around the country whose sole job is to organise competitive sport within and between schools, across all sports.

For the first time next year, Fencing will be on the list of sports for which schools can access funding for equipment and coaching, and which will be supported by the Competition managers. I believe that there are only 21 sports on that list, so this is no small achievement.

What we need now is to get some boots on the ground encouraging schools sports partnerships to access this funding, bringing them together with local clubs and coaches, organising coach education at a local level, and turning this opportunity into serious growth for the sport.

Exactly how this can be achieved within our very limited resources is the subject of lively debate within England Fencing at the moment.

Baldric
-26th August 2008, 19:22
I trust that gave you a life long hatred of rugby union and the class system ?

Not really. I still managed to get to Cardiff Arms park for almost every Wales home game during the '70s, the magic era of JPR Williams, Barry John and Gareth Edwards etc, which made me a lifelong fan of welsh rugby (please don't tell anyone :whistle:)

As for the class system - it was only being in the school classes that had to go out in the rain to watch rugby that I objected to. Once I reached the dizzy heights of the upper 4th, it was a pleasure to watch the grubby little 3rd and lower 4th form traipse off in the mud......... did 'em good! :D character building dontcha know?

Toodle pip

Balders.

Ronald Velden
-26th August 2008, 20:07
Ref: Baldric

We have something in 'common' ! In my youth I played Rugby [Saracens
Colts/Schools and Wasps].

In my dotage and double weight I like to watch Football [ Arsenal season ticketholder] and Rugby.

On a more serious note children should be encouraged to play rather than
watch sport. Private Schools now offer so many options that almost everyone
can turn out for a school team. Eton for example in Michaelmas Term play
both football and rugby and turn out over 30 school teams not to mention other sports.

I would however mention that I am invited to the annual Islington and Camden
Schools Cup Final, which is held at Emirates [previously Highbury] and
large numbers of both schools come and watch.

Swords Crossed
-26th August 2008, 21:40
Ref: Baldric

You're right - that does please me. It must be an incredibly new development, though, because it isn't all that long since I was churned out of the school system!

Baldric
-26th August 2008, 21:44
Ref: Baldric

You're right - that does please me. It must be an incredibly new development, though, because it isn't all that long since I was churned out of the school system!

It is very new. When EF started talking to the Youth Sport Trust about a year ago, the recruitment process of 260+ school sports co-ordinators and 60+ comp managers was still underway.

To be fair to the government (not words that fall naturally from my lips) this whole thing has been properly resourced at ground level. The tricky bit is making sure that Fencing gets a good slice of the action. Other sports are well ahead of us in terms of infrastructure, so we have to get our skates on.

Baldric

Swords Crossed
-26th August 2008, 22:38
Other sports are well ahead of us in terms of infrastructure, so we have to get our skates on.

Baldric

Hmm, Fencing on Ice, a Winter Olympic Sport? Or stealing Ice Hockey's gear :p
Seriously though, it sounds like it'll go a long way to providing the solution. They still need to make sure all children are encouraged (as opposed to forced) to get involved. I know that I for one, like may others, am in sport full stop in spite of school sports activities instead of as a result of them, and would dearly like to see that rectified for future generations.

Keith.A.Smith
-27th August 2008, 20:52
Desar All,

I fully suport what Baldric says about getting fencing into more schools.

The discussions that England Fencing have had all came about because of our involvement in the UK School Games and the Youth Sport Trust are really eager to broaden the range of sports available to youngsters.

I really hope fencing can take advantage of these possibilities.

Keith

laur51
-2nd September 2008, 09:14
Spurs are nicer than Arse nal.

mozzar
-4th September 2008, 17:43
A valid point Laur51. I hope we get to hear more insights like it soon.