PDA

View Full Version : BFA (get your act together!)



sparkymark567
-9th July 2003, 00:30
How many fencers are there in the UK?

You could ask British Fencing, but there is not really much point because they don't really know.

The problem being that the membership is both too expensive and too complicated. There is therefore relatively few fencers who are members of the BFA.

When a new member joins your club you can't really tell them that they have to join the BFA because it's too expensive.

Basically, the BFA are a complete joke when it comes down to membership. I think the BFA should take a look at some other and more organised sports.

tigger
-9th July 2003, 09:22
I don't think membership is too expensive. I'd be willing to pay more for a better organisation. I think associate membership is about 16 a year. You don't have to be a full member unless you're doing opens. And if you are doing opens you should be ready to pay up. Assoc membership still allows you to do county/regional events.

I have been very critical of the BFA on many issues, but I don't think membership is too expensive. i think there are many other things wrong with it, but essentially we get the BFA we deserve. How many of us have turned up to vote at an AGM, or stood for a committee position, or contacted the BFA directly with our concerns and criticisms, or given constructive feeback to people who can change things, or indeed done anything but sit at home and complain about it?

The only way to change things is to get off your a**e and do it yourself.

Rdb811
-9th July 2003, 10:17
It's more a problem of communication - a lot of the time a fencer is asked to fork out 16 / 32 to fence in one event (plus the cost of the event, plus the extra kit). If there were a little sheet explaining what the money was used fo, then it might be a different case. (much like the ones I get with the council tax).

I didn't realise until recently the subsidy for A-Grade, as an example.

aao
-9th July 2003, 10:21
Have to agree entirely with Tigger here, the BFA does have a number of faults but so does any volunteer organisation, and bearing this in mind they don't do too bad a job. I've been involved on and off with the BFA for the past few years and I can understand exactly how much time you have to set aside to be able to achieve anything, so full credit to people like Keith Smith who has a full time teaching job and also seems to be attending meetings almost every weekday evening.

If you want change stand for election or volunteer to help or even email the BFA with any suggestions you have.

Oh I think there are about 4500 registered members of the BFA so a good guess of the number of fencers in the UK including schools Unis and local fencers would probably be about 10000.

Sophie
-9th July 2003, 10:30
I don't think membership is too expensive either, but we will never get a better run organisation if the people who run it do so on a voluntary or part time basis.

"Grass Roots" and junior fencing seem to lose out because of sponsorship of a few top class fencers.

Who is likely to be coming up through the ranking system when our current top fencers retire? Whoever they are, I'm sure that they don't get the support they deserve from the BFA.

jasonf
-9th July 2003, 10:31
According to the BFA Website there are four categories
of individual membership, plus coach and club affiliations:

http://www.britishfencing.com/membership.htm

Taking Lawn Tennis as a random example, there are three categories of individual membership, plus coach and club affiliations.

If membership is complicated, it is no more or less complicated than other sports.

As regards the question "How many fencers are there in the UK?" - the BFA annual report details the number of registered fencers in each region - approximately 5000 across the U.K. if I remember correctly.

However, a recent straw poll in the Eastern Region collating estimated memberships received from clubs discovered that only 10-20% of people who fence had current BFA membership - presumably because it is only seen as requirement for competitive fencing rather than insurance. The disparity between BFA membership/estimated club numbers was particularly high amongst school clubs.

tigger
-9th July 2003, 10:43
I don't think there's much sponsorship a few elite fencers. For goodness sake, there are guys representing our country at A grades, Commonwealths, Worlds who buy their own tracksuit, pay their own travelling etc etc. I think that's completely wrong. I agree that grass roots and particularly junior fencng needs to have a better structure. I think membership should be simplified into 2 categories - U18 and over 18! Pay more, get more. That's life. You don't go into tennis, golf, squash, rugby or whatever and expect subsidy of any kind until you're already v good. I believe training of talented juniors needs to be more standardised - if there's a kid who has potential they should have every possible chance to train with the best coaches we have. When you reach 18 it's already too late to be world number 1. The foundations are laid at 8 or 9.

The BFA does an OK job in the circumstances, but is too entrenched in its past. Radical change is the only thing that would bring radical improvement, but I for one can't be arsed to do more about fencing nationally than write about it on this forum! I do a lot locally, but that won't change our fencing culture. Good luck to the people who do put in genuine work on a national basis, but if you're not happy let them know. It's easy to criticise, but to offer a viable alternative with the funds available is trickier

srb
-9th July 2003, 11:27
I think the cost of membership and the cost of competitions is okay for what you get. But what you get is not a lot!

As well as fencing, I also cycle fairy seriously. Membership to the British Cycling Federation costs 50, and a race licence costs an extra 30. Also if you want to race in time trials you have to be a member of the Road Time Trials Council or an affiliated club, which cost me another 15. So I'm faced with a 95 bill before I get on my bike.

A road race will cost about 12, and a time trial will cost about 6. But for all this you get a very well organised season of events. You can race almost all year round if you switch to an indoor track in the winter. From March to September I could race in 3 races/time trials a week all within an hours drive of where I live. Nearly all the course/race details throughout the country are available from the internet. There are standard entry forms, day licences are available etc, etc. Its easy. In fencing its just not the same.

For example, I've entered the nationals after getting details from the BFA website. However, I don't know whether my entry has been accepted, I don't know where the competition is etc, etc. I know its RAF Cosford, but where in Cosford. I think the general organisation of fencing has a lot to learn. Cycling is generally a volunatry sport as well, so financing is not an acceptable excuse.

srb

sparkymark567
-9th July 2003, 11:39
Jason f

10 to 20% of fencers in the Eastern region are members of British Fencing. That what was the point I was getting at. I'm sure this must be replicated in other areas of the country.

32 is o.k for competitors, I have no problems with that, but 16 is a little expensive when all you get in return is insurance.

Every fencer should be a member of British Fencing, but that can't happen, if people have to pay 16 each.

Now suppose that a basic membership should were to cost only 5 and that every fencer must join. That would generate far more cash than the current system.

Further more, british fencing would have a far greater number of members, which would help them when applying for sports grants etc.

Mark

Rdb811
-9th July 2003, 12:09
A point I've made before - 5 complusary membership would work. he proportion of fencers who are members of the BFA is about the same as for other sports where I have some knowledge of the figures. (Bridge, Croquet). The 10-29=0% figure is about right - although I thought school clubs tended to do more local comps and there =fore had more BFA mebers..

This gives a total figure of about 20-25,000 fencers which ties in with the volume needed to support the number of fll time coaches and equipment suppliers.

Sophie
-9th July 2003, 12:13
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.....

My understanding is that all fencing clubs are affiliated to the BFA. They pay a membership fee which covers any club member for insurance purposes. This is one of the reasons we pay a membership fee to our clubs.

Why should we all pay again if we are not competing?

Rdb811
-9th July 2003, 12:17
To support everything else, in theory - like coach development and teh A-Grades. Hence my pont about the lack of communication.

jasonf
-9th July 2003, 12:29
The problem is that you can't lower the price unless you can guarantee the increase in membership, and you won't be able to see if the total membership increases until you lower the price.

I'm not sure, but I think its also the case that Sport England funding is based on a combination of membership fees and raw numbers. So even if total numbers increase, it is possible that overall funding could reduce - getting it wrong could prove very expensive.

I don't think that compulsory membership imposed from the centre would be permitted - it is seen as reducing access. I do think that encouraging clubs to include a BFA membership in the price of a beginners course - ie imposition from the bottom up - could make a difference however.

Funny you should pick 5 as an entry level price - basic Membership of the LTA costs a fiver.

Sophie
-9th July 2003, 12:29
I do agree with your point about lack of communication (although not with your compulsory fee!!)

On that note, does anyone know if it is possible to get details from the BFA about where our membership money goes (i.e. Income/Expenditure accounts etc)

(OK - obvious answer - why not ask them)......

jasonf
-9th July 2003, 12:38
Originally posted by Rdb811
I thought school clubs tended to do more local comps and there =fore had more BFA mebers..


Ah, but the number of kids who are just 'giving it a go', and move on to another sport next term or whatever is still higher than those who actively compete.

If you are receiving instruction in a club - and hence covered by a coach's insurance - but never progress beyond the stage of fighting with your club mates it is difficult to see what direct personal advantage is gained by membership.

sparkymark567
-9th July 2003, 17:32
Originally posted by jasonf
Ah, but the number of kids who are just 'giving it a go', and move on to another sport next term or whatever is still higher than those who actively compete.

If you are receiving instruction in a club - and hence covered by a coach's insurance - but never progress beyond the stage of fighting with your club mates it is difficult to see what direct personal advantage is gained by membership.

That's a very good point. I'm not sure what should happen with membership for kids fencing at schools. Perhaps the insurance cover for this must remain with the coach in charge. But, at clubs individual membership to the bfa should be a compulsory requirement. This could perhaps exclude organised begginers courses where direct supervision is given by the coach in charge.

I'm not trying to be aukward, just that bristish fencing is the governing body, so every fencer should be affiliated in some way.
e.i. 5 basic membership for insurrance and a membership card only.

doobarz
-9th July 2003, 17:39
Does anyone know what the insurance deal is with BFA Coahces in a BFA affiliated club? This came up recently at our AGM, we were trying to get hold of someone who knew....

I don't think the membership is too much - associate or full - insurance, The Sword, website hosting, support for GBR squad.

And bear in mind our top coaches earn lots less than the equivilent in other sports would....

tigger
-10th July 2003, 08:59
Does anyone know what the insurance deal is with BFA Coahces in a BFA affiliated club? This came up recently at our AGM, we were trying to get hold of someone who knew....

Not sure wot u mean Doobarz.. clarify at once young man.

I agree I don't think 16 is going to break the bank. Also it's even cheaper (9 or something) for U14s.

Rdb811
-10th July 2003, 12:24
It is when coupled with a 10entry fee for a mornings entertianment.

I'll add that Croquet Association members get a fixture book / club listing (200 pages a5) and a 80 A4 page membership pack explaining the ins and outs of competitons.

Cvillefencer
-10th July 2003, 15:39
Just for the sake of comparison, 16UK is about 25 dollars right? Sounds like a bargain to me! We shell out $45 a year for basic membership, $150 for the clubs USFA membership, between $10-15 for local comps, $35-60 for Commonwealth/State games and you can easily spend between $75-125 for a NAC/National depending on what weapons and categories you chose to fence in. And that does not count dues to your local club and training costs, transportation, and lodging at cops that are more than a few hours drive.

I am one of the (apparently) small majority of fencers in my division that would love to see the entry fees raised by 50-100% to get better prizes and directors and to provide better venues for tourneys.

Even with the higher entry fees however, the USFA has the same problem that the BFA seems to have in that only about 20% of fencers are members. The general outlook seems to be "why bother joining unless I want to fence competitively".

A few clubs that are competition oriented are starting to make USFA membership a requirement, and while I am not sure I would want to jump on the bandwagon with our club (about 75% of our club fences competitively already) I think it is a good idea for that type of competitive club.

Having said that there are good reasons for a lot of college and school club members not to not join, as they have only one or two junior tourneys a year in there areas, can not afford/do not want to bother with a 1000 mile trip for a NAC/National, fence in the NCAA comps only, or just fencer for fun.

I guess my point is that even with higher prices I do not think the BFA would lose any competitive fencers, since they are going to fight anyway, and the people who do not feel the need to join will not bother no matter the price. The trick would be making the extra money count for something.

I think for the BFA and the USFA it would help if there was more disclosure about what the money is used for, and a shift in focus from the top 2% of fencers to more courting of the grass roots rank and file that actually provide the bulk of its members/income.

And better prizes. I hate getting the same cheap medals all the time. A trophy once in a while would be nice, or some type of cool sponsor prize like a new weapon or mask (Barry/Kenny are you listening?). :) :drink:

clockity
-10th July 2003, 16:11
Cvillefencer,
The 16 BFA membership is necessary to enter a competition. It does not cover club fees (which can be several hundered pounds which is needed to cover equipment, coaching and facility rent) or entry to the competitions. It is needed for competitions so that all participants are covered by the BFA insurance policy. Oh and you get a good magazine three times a year too. It is no way a golden ticket to fencing at a club without paying for anything else. Saying that, it isn't expensive to have really after weighing in the other costs that are shelled out to fence competitively. Our clkub does not force every new member to join the BFA.

Rdb811
-10th July 2003, 16:18
The 16 is for local vents only - it is 32 to do Open events. 16 does't sound a lot, but if all the fencer sees is that plus entry to one local event (10 in itself) plus the expenses of extra kit, then the costs start to mount up - 26 for a morning out IS a lot of money

3 Card Trick
-10th July 2003, 16:34
O.K. as to price of fencing. How much does it cost to belong to a Tennis or Golf Club and then on top of that there are the licence fees for competing.

I accept that Fencing is not cheap, but I don't think it is necessarily "expensive" when compared to other sports.

My family also like to sail, now that is expensive.......

doobarz
-10th July 2003, 16:51
Originally posted by tigger
Not sure wot u mean Doobarz.. clarify at once young man.

I agree I don't think 16 is going to break the bank. Also it's even cheaper (9 or something) for U14s.

Regarding insurance.

If I have an accident at my club, which is BFA Affiliated and has registered coaches, and I am a BFA member, but the guys whose blade breaks and injures me isn't, is it covered by BFA Insurance?

3 Card Trick
-10th July 2003, 17:41
Originally posted by doobarz
Regarding insurance.

If I have an accident at my club, which is BFA Affiliated and has registered coaches, and I am a BFA member, but the guys whose blade breaks and injures me isn't, is it covered by BFA Insurance?

Yes.

Rdb811
-10th July 2003, 22:22
Originally posted by 3 Card Trick
O.K. as to price of fencing. How much does it cost to belong to a Tennis or Golf Club and then on top of that there are the licence fees for competing.

I accept that Fencing is not cheap, but I don't think it is necessarily "expensive" when compared to other sports.

My family also like to sail, now that is expensive.......

The croquet club I belong to is 146 pa plus 1 green fee for matches not on club nights - comp entry fess and CA membership are the same as for fencing. The squash section of the same club club has the same fee plus court hire fess which are about the same - and which are about the going reate for rec. fencing club fees in his part of the world.

Road race cycling is supposed to be a dirt cheap working class sport - a set of wheels cost a friend of mine 240.

The problem is in presenting a beginner with effectively large bill for one event - we know this isn't the case, but it is very hard to present it differently - it's a communication probelm.;[B][I]

PM1
-10th July 2003, 23:52
Cvillefencer - good idea, and it does occasionally happen, at least at our public (private) schools comp, held every March, when winner get thumping huge trophies in some cases(to give back next year) and the final 8 in each comp get a lovely little plaque - which makes a chjange from medals.

And by the way - LPJS medals are good quality - thanks, Barry.

PM1
-10th July 2003, 23:54
...oh, and some kit, too - a bag and/or a blade/mask, etc. the BFA centenary British youth champs received a cheque for winning - lovely jubbly!!!;) ;)

Sophie
-11th July 2003, 08:08
I wasn't aware that our BFA membership money paid for prizes.

I hope we have better thing to spend membership money on!.

Prizes are normally donated by sponsors (i.e. Leon Paul / Allstar etc) or come out of entry fees.

srb
-11th July 2003, 08:10
Originally posted by Rdb811

Road race cycling is supposed to be a dirt cheap working class sport - a set of wheels cost a friend of mine 240.
[B][I]

240 - Were they second hand?

My road bike, which is far from top spec is insured for 1500. As for my time trial bike that's insured for 2000.

My track bike was cheap in comparison, then there is my training bike, and then my mountain bike, and so on. Cycling a dirt cheap working class sport!

The main advantage is that you can buy second hand kit wisely and get a bargain, unlike with fencing kit. For instance my time trial bike is an ex pro team bike that was used by Bob Downs - a Milk Race winner. I only paid 375 for it before insuring it the next day for the amount above.

So in comparison fencing can be quite a cheap sport (I'm not sure my wife will agree with this though). Its once you start competing in competitions a lot, especially abroad that the cost will escalate. In cycling if you're good enough to compete abroad you will probably get sponsored and it won't cost anything.

srb

randomsabreur
-11th July 2003, 20:11
In France, membership of the FFE is a requirement of joining any club from any age. It is about 20-30. It is also club based, so a fencer is licensed as a member of a club and must fence for that club. Given that their clubs are open most nights of the week, this is not the problem that it would be over here. I currently train at 3 clubs and this may change when I go to uni next year! Which club to choose as a registration would be a problem.

Anyway, back on topic, if the associate membership were to be presented as part of the cost of joining an affiliated club, it would not seem so large. Club fees are generally in the region of 120 to 240 plus and an additional 16 would not be noticed.

Incidentally, I seem to remember from the modernisation meeting that Welsh fencing has an introductory form of membership that costs 5 for the first year or something like that. Would something like that, even if it was not a revenue maker be useful or relevant to British Fencing as a whole

oiuyt
-11th July 2003, 20:46
I've noticed this happening more and more over here as well. A bunch of the clubs around me have started including a USFA membership with annual dues. Helps reduce the threshold for fencing in that first competition.

-B :)

sparkymark567
-13th July 2003, 12:34
Originally posted by randomsabreur

Incidentally, I seem to remember from the modernisation meeting that Welsh fencing has an introductory form of membership that costs 5 for the first year or something like that. Would something like that, even if it was not a revenue maker be useful or relevant to British Fencing as a whole


That sounds like quite a good idea to me.