View Full Version : How to run a successful Uni fencing club.

-15th June 2004, 21:52
I've been the chairman of our fencing club and i will return to the post next September. I find the whole business rewarding but hard-going, as i get little cooperation from the Students Union.

Do any of you have any tips to make my life as a chairman with a new Secretary and Treasurer a little easier?

How do i get some money together, what kind of things should i buy?

How do you people get and retain members?

-15th June 2004, 22:20
"Just keep talking"

You have to keep everybody invled from beginners to the exeprienced fencers, the coaches and your committee. I usually talk to my Treasurer twice during the week - once on Mondays to check what needs to be sorted out ofr who we have to speak to before Thursday and once on Thursday morning to check the arrangements for the evening. I'll speak to the rest of the committee (i.e. those dealing with matches as required) less frequently depending on circumstances.

Hopefully by doing this you can encourage everybody, without interfering with them or telling them what to do.

Basicallly you are keeping the plates spinning - making sure that the fencing sessions happen, everybody that turns up is taken care of (hopefully by somebody else). - remember that the work is for the club as a whole, not you nor the coaches. It's a bit like gardening - little and often.

I presume demonstrations a Freshers Fair plus posters are the way to get new receuits. (Big tip - buy your bamboo canes for the banner now)

Kit is fairly easy - boxes / electric kit (luxury)/ beginners kit / replacements - I know of one place that got sponsor from their kebab shop, then got more money of the Athletics Union.

I'm chairman of a fencing club now, but not a university, although I ran other things then, the only sport being Bridge, for which we had enough cards (48 boards from memory).
{The quote is a Stephen Hawking sample at the start of a Pink Floyd track}

-16th June 2004, 09:36
I'd agree with this. If you keep everyone involved then they'll want to do things.

Also don't do everything yourself as I've seen well run clubs where only one person does everything and people get used to everything getting done for them.

Lots of enthusiasm helps too.

Kit whatever you can afford. One thing Lancaster did this year was to buy a lot of gloves in normal sizes and sell them to the club members. I think it seemed to work well.

-16th June 2004, 10:23
Freshers week in general - try and have someone running around the uni between all the union groups who are organising and publicising it to make sure that you have events, and that whatever info there is for freshers says where they are going to be.

Publicity - single best thing we ever did in Bath was to set up a piste in the middle of the Parade - the central strip of the Uni so people couldn't miss us. Everyone at least knows we are there now.

Armoury - make sure everything is done in house if you can as it saves a lot of money that can be spent on new kit.

Coaching - Can you get your coach to do basic coaching qualifications with some of your better fencers so that there can be some structured coaching of beginners at the start of the year without taking your regular coach away from your better people.
Also, once you have some students as qualified coaches you can find it much easier to organise fundraising fencing taster sessions with scout groups/schools/ whatever.

If you are planning on selling personalised kit as a fundraiser then do it before christmas. You get more sales and won't have the problem of the stuff being unavailable until during the summer holidays.

-16th June 2004, 10:30
I'd like to add my 10p to this thread....

During my time at our University fencing club I've been Secretary, Captain, and now Vice-Captain (Captain would be the same as Chairman in your terms).

In my mind its all about publicity. When I joined, the club was giving away free t-shirts with every membership. Plus we only charged 15.00 membership. At our uni, members of sports clubs have to buy a Sportscard. This entitles them to use the gyms etc, and allows them access to our sports hall, as well as covering them with university sports insurance. This has cost 45.00 this year. So think about how much you're charging your members to join etc. I know that the rowing club this year charged juniors and seniors different amounts.

This year, we've decided against t-shirts, as we asked the members how effective they were. Oh, thats another thing, make sure you get feedback from your members to find out how effective your marketing strategy was etc. Instead we're offering money off the joining fee for the first x members. We've also increased our fees this year to 20.00, so this should add as an incentive.

Everything is about money when you're trying to attract beginners. As the others have mentioned, make sure you can provide kit for your beginners. This is an incentive as kit is expensive. Only after a while, some beginners would maybe buy a weapon, or they're own plastron/glove etc. Also mention this to them, "The club will be doing a kit order in the spring term, would you like to order anything?" This way you can help keep them interested, as well as freeing up kit etc. Also, they'll feel more involved with the club if they have their own equipment etc.

Last year, when I was Captain, I emphasised 'No Experience Necessary' with all the potential freshers. This resulted in the club having 90 members this year! Think about what the freshers will be looking for in terms of the club. Also, a good coach will be helpful. I'm assuming your coach has been with you for some time. This will help if you have to ask him/her to deal with nearly 90 members!

I know this is long but stick with me... During fresher's fair this year, we have planned a demonstration. This is useful to show people what its like. It'll also get their blood pumping and their adrenalin rushing. Make sure, if you do this, that there is somebody to give out leaflets/information and let them know where your stand/stall is. Also, put plenty of posters up. Have you thought about getting somebody to dress up as one of the Three Musketeers? Or maybe get three people to dress up?

Our committee this year is very enthusiastic, and this always helps. Our club may not have members winning national competitions, but we're successful in the fact that we end up with a great bunch of people, we get on very well with our coach, and we build upon each previous year.

Should you need any more help/information, I apologise this was so long, then just send me a private message, and I'd be happy to help with any ideas.

Neil Brown
-29th June 2004, 23:49
As for the last 4 years I am running (together with David Kirby) a coaching course in July, this year at Bristol University. This is an ideal course for anyone who needs a qualification in order to do some coaching in a University or other club.

Details can be seen under "Training" at www.fencingcoach.net

-30th June 2004, 08:58
The thing that made the most difference to us at uni was recruiting huge numbers of people. We had about 50 beginners turn up at the start of term and had to split in to two sessions! I think the reason for this was at least partially to do with the body language on the fencing club stand at the sports fair. People sitting behind a table with "fencing club" stuck to it is confrontational, anyone approaching is under pressure to immediately talk and decide to join. A better way of doing it is to have a load of people stood in front, looking at bits of fencing kit, leaflets etc sat on the table. A group looking at something is much easier to approach, and hopefully this will encourage shy freshers to participate. Good luck anyway.