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Thread: Participation. Retention. Growth

  1. #1
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    Default Participation. Retention. Growth

    Hello colleagues
    Does anyone else find it disappointing that there are only 30-70 fencers or thereabouts on cadet / junior ranking lists ? The drop off rate between LPJS / kids circuit and older age category circuits is huge.

    I know there are many sound reasons but as a partial outsider to the sport I approach with the idea that perhaps it could be the other way around.. Couldn't there be more engagement competitively as fencers mature instead of 'pyramid' effect. Are coaches and clubs missing something / doing something wrong ?

    Mark

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    Hi Mark

    There are a lot more fencers doing comps on the selection circuit. They just donít all get points. Taking juniors if you donít make the 64 of a senior nominated event you get nothing to show your attendance other than a star if you already have points. And there are fencers doing one or two events each but not hitting the threshold for points in other events. So the rankings donít actually reflect the numbers involved.

    However, if you are not placing high enough to secure points you need to keep showing up for fun because you might also have been cut after the poules. So as a fencer enjoying the sport is it better to attend your county and local opens instead?

    We focus a lot on the rankings but many fencers simply enjoy Fencing so this needed support too in order for new competitive folk to rise from more grassroots clubs

    Just a few thoughts and observations

    Nick

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    Hi nick,
    Thanks for the ideas -
    I get it in terms of status quo , but there are still as many fencers 15-18 as members of one gymn in a mid sized town ! On national scale it's pitifully small. What I am saying is that there are significantly bigger numbers at LPJS u11&13 for example and that instead of these numbers diminishing up through age groups that they could be growing !

    I think there is a lapse in thinking at club level here.

    Specifically as to your observations above re county and opens maybe the younger fencers don't enjoy these as much as you might think.. Maybe it would be better if BRC and other 'circuit' events all had side plate / two rounds Poules / other measures to make sure all comers get a fuller day out. Sure, it would cost more to run and be more complex, but if it doubles the number of fencers who still on circuit at 18 then great -- then the u.20 and 23 circuit can grow.

    Of course uni fencing is a mess- and this needs radical overhaul which can only come through bucs/BFA collaboration.

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    I wonder if it is because many younger children do more than one sport and by the time they get to 15/16 they have to choose to specialise and with the added pressure of GCSEs (and the new courses have got harder, have a non-fencing daughter starting exams next week ) they don't have the time.

    Some continue for recreation so as mentioned won't appear in rankings if not getting points.

    I don't know if it's changed but they used to add all entrants to the ranking lists, even if they received zero points.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ChrisHeaps's Avatar
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    I think this is absolutely to do with the socioeconomic state of the country and has been for a few years.

    People can't afford it. I was watching Question Time the other week (I love a bit of argie bargie, reminds me of the forum) when they were discussing the recent suggestion that people should give up any kind of luxury in order to be able to save a for deposit as the house price to earnings ratio is something outrageous. So there's the 20-35 age group then there's the next group up who are probably reigning in spending too as evidenced by various retail companies going bust at an ever increasing pace.

    We had the other thread recently about cancelling local opens & low participation there. We've had the death of well established opens such as the H&W and Bristol. And I bet we're not the only sport suffering like this apart from running since the inception of the Park Run idea. I guess if there are other sports growing they would be interesting to look at for examples of how to weather the situation.

    Although Pentathlon seems to do ok. There's quite a few of them at my club and they always seem to get their competitions paid for.

  6. #6
    Senior Member danKew's Avatar
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    I disagree;

    13 fencers - u9 ranking list (LPJS) - https://leonpauljuniorseries.co.uk/r...gs/U9/boy/Epee
    14 fencers - u11 ranking list (LPJS) - https://leonpauljuniorseries.co.uk/r...s/U11/boy/Epee
    23 fencers - u13 ranking list - http://francisfencing.org.uk/wroclaw/boysU13.htm
    31 fencers - u15 ranking list - http://francisfencing.org.uk/wroclaw/boysU15.htm
    61 fencers - u17 ranking list - http://francisfencing.org.uk/men/cadets.htm
    89 fencers - u20 ranking list - http://francisfencing.org.uk/men/juniors.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by danKew View Post
    I disagree
    There you go again Dan. Spoiling a good argument by bringing fact to the table.

    I guess it depends on the weapon.

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    Senior Member danKew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick E View Post
    There you go again Dan. Spoiling a good argument by bringing fact to the table.

    I guess it depends on the weapon.
    Sorry Nick. Would be interesting to see if it does differ for foil and sabre.

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    87 for Cadet MF

    92 for Junior MF

    What is nice is to see the fencers who pitch up for the U16 and U18 foil at the BYCs who don’t do the Cadet and Junior Circuit. We’ve seen an element of snootiness on here about the BYCs and some of the levels of competiveness in some regions but some of these fencers will be encouraged to go on to fence at university and actually do quite well, so it’s not just about the Cadet and Junior ranking circuit. At our club we’re seeing fencers starting as teenagers and they aren’t realistically going to go on to fence at Cadet or Junior international level but if we can keep them involved they will be decent fencers at university level or at regional opens and have a lot of enjoyment from the sport.

  10. #10
    Moderator Gav's Avatar
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    Christ.

    Let the kids have fun. This is especially true in the younger age groups. If you let them have fun, they will stay on in the sport and they are more likely to succeed later on.

    Once you get into the youth performance categories (international cadet and junior) then we need to support and tailor training for those interested ....

    For everyone else if you place your emphasis on performance ( e.g. grinding through the ranking lists) they are far more likely to burn out: in other words drop the sport and go do something less stressful instead.

    So let's focus-less on a stupid ranking scheme and more on a quality fencing environment. Our general culture in the UK is too focused on chasing points...

    In addition, the presence of kids on ranking lists/tournament entries says very little about how healthy the sport is. This is a subset of the actual numbers.
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  11. #11
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    I echo the sentiment entirely - I don't think kids are having enough fun ! There seems to be a pyramid of results driven collateral fallout... Whereby clubs have a larger pool of fencers in the earlier age groups thinning down at older age group.
    Whoever posted earlier the competition stats showing 13 fencers in GB at u.11 or u.13 age category ranking lists and 80 in the junior category is obviously off the mark .. Without being disingenuous no one incapable of a modicum of sense will deny that there is much larger numbers of kids starting fencing than are still in the sport at age 20. Hence the header of the thread.
    Maybe there is too much pressure , maybe there should be more focus on development and retention and competing should be emphasised later in mid teens ? Then maybe entry levels for under 17's will be similair to u.13's. Perhaps there could be less emphasis on 'the coach' and the individual lesson .. Less emphasis on 'the club' commensurate rivalry ; more on group work and regional collaborative training and sparring.

    It just seems wrong to me that our sport has as many members as it does. Do you know if BF are allied to let us know how many members there are in each birth yr ?
    Regards
    Mark

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