There are a lot of coaches who work in schools in the evenings and Saturdays. These coaches do not have spare time to go on extended training weeks or weekends and would be letting their pupils down if they did so. If you want to improve the coaching then a good way forward would be to have coaching seminars. This would be better on a Sunday as I think more would attend, make the seminar free and then the only cost would be travel. One venue three top class coaches with some of their students. Doing it this way and on a regular basis would be to get a lot more from everybody involved. Clubs may even be willing to pay towards the cost of travel and local funding may be available. I did go to an event run be Southern and there was an excellent demo done by one of our better Sabre coaches and his pupil. Just an idea.
BF has been promoting the "next big things" in fencing since I started over 20 years ago. None of them have really produced, because there wasn't the system in place to coach them. Every sports parent wants their kid to be a champion, be it Olympic, or Wimbledon, or whatever. Unfortunately that only comes true for a minuscule number of people, and if the support structure isn't there, those odds get much, much longer.
However, if the funding is for a training centre (nice, but probably not the top priority) and development for 2016 and 2020 then this is probably all academic anyway. There won't be enough left over to import a coach after the centre is built. The wait will go on.
"CHANGE OF PLAN! LEG IT!!!"
Now that the Board has met and been briefed on what is going to happen, I imagine there will be an announcement in early 2013 explaining how the funds will be used.
It is already clear it will be for about 12 fencers, to help some of them qualify for Rio 2016.
I presume Alex Newton as PD will select the 12 or so fencers and they will be announced before the new finances start.
Key target will be the 2013 World Championships. This is the real test of our standing, but clearly an expectation of good results at the European Championships.
Juniors and Cadets will need to stay basically self funding, apart from the Beasley money which is spent on officials.
For the programme, it will be interesting to see who UKS accept and which weapons etc.
I am sure a key criteria for UKS will be agreeing performance targets and improving the coaching provision and fencing have a fixed centre for training.
It will be interesting to see how things develop for Rio and how many of our fencers qualify. Personally, I wish them every success. It is also good to see UKS being realistic and not expecting medals in Rio.
The style of fencing you describe doesn't really match up with what I see when I watch the top British fencers fence. Go look up some of the fights on Youtube. Willis vs Perry, Marsh vs Thomas, Gregory vs Perry are all nice fights to get you started. Plenty of movement, very little blade contact, none without faults (who is?) but still very competent fencers. Not surprising considering all of them have at some stage made the later stages of foreign opens, junior and/or senior world cups. In fact if they were continental Europeans you'd probably be holding them up as examples to follow.
I'm not saying that all fencers on the British national circuit are technically good; that was never my point. However you basically wrote off the fencers 'in the mix' right now, saying they had received the wrong training and did not have good technique. Some of them quite patently do, or else they would not have won medals at A grades.
Incidentally your point about trying to retrain someone aged 18-20 is interesting. I remember reading an interview with a good French coach (I think it was Didier Ollagnon, apologies if it wasn't and I'm putting words in his mouth) which said that this was the age to focus on technique and get them out of bad habits.
Some fencers do seem to get stuck at their clubs and keep fencing people of a lower standard, which can make them mentally lazy and won't reveal mistakes that a better fencer would be able to exploit and thereby highlight. What you say about the fights online is true too, how many fencers film themselves at training and then review the footage?
If what Keith is saying is true and the focus will only be on around 12 athletes, I worry that getting groups of fencers in non-funded weapons training together as a squad will be difficult. In Epee at least, I believe Matt Haynes has run a couple of sessions and earlier in the year we did run some sessions in Guildford (with Neale Thomas) which were exactly what is needed. I hope that although there may be a specific focus on a couple of squads, there will still be a decent level of interest from a performance team in all 6 weapons and that help can be given on a regular basis.
"CHANGE OF PLAN! LEG IT!!!"