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Thread: When did we lose it?

  1. #41
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FencingMove View Post
    From a personal perspective the scrapping of cards has had absolutely no effect on how I associate with the sport. The 'psychological impact' of not having a physical membership card is negligible.

    I strongly believe that nobody would consider whether or not to become a member of the BFA based on whether or not they received a piece of card in the mail.

    I actually think there is a strong case for getting rid of the physical copy of 'The Sword' magazine unless requested as this, no doubt generates massive cost with little value added. I suspect in most households the magazine goes straight from letterbox to bin without being read.

    Seems to me like you are quite a big fan of form over function in your appreciation of the sport.
    I do have to say I find your posts and general demeanor in the way you respond to people fascinating. While I think it may not be particularly productive to focus on responding negatively to other peoples questions and thoughts, I do at least appreciate that you are not afraid to be antagonistic which is clearly something that British Fencing is in need of from its members if we are ever going to break out of the current situation.
    I'm inclined to agree with you re "The Sword' magazine. It has definitely been in significant decline. That being said I was having a clear out before moving house and found several containing some very interesting articles that go back some way that it was good to reexamine. It reminded me of some different coaching ideas that I haven't had to use for some time.
    Now in reference to form over function, I tend towards an analytical approach to problems. ie, define the current situation. Identify what the target to be achieved was. Identify what changes were made previously and if they have had the intended affect. I'm also quite keen on examining changes that have been carried out that were considered at the time to be insignificant. So for this example, one of the factors that naturally impacts fencer engagement is the sense of "Community" among fencers, that community for some may be only at the club level, for others it may involve association with fencers at a county, regional, HC, National or World level. Community may involve fencers being engaged with one another outside of the training environment, it may be limited to training sessions. Similarly, little details mean different things to different fencers. For example older fencers may prefer to keep abreast of fencing news through "the sword". Some may do the same by participating in Veterans fencing competitions. Some young fencers may like to feel they are part of something bigger by completing the grading syllabus, others may prefer to compete in LPJS.
    My questions are informed by my observations over the past 12 years as a coach working with fencers of various different ability levels and in a range of different club environments, including clubs that were primarily social and rarely sent any fencers to competitions as well as clubs that sent fencers to international events regularly. In the social club when a fencer decided to step into the world of competition it was a big deal and for an eleven year old their BFA card was a point of pride. Not everyone is the same. As far as I can tell in terms of what fencers at the basic level experience five things have changed over the past ten years, first funding has been cut, second cost of equipment and venues has gone up, third the BFA has devolved to HC's, Fourth membership cards were removed, Fifth the Sword has gone from monthly to quarterly. These are the things that get noticed by club level fencers. I admit the first two are probably the most significant factors, but if community is involved with engagement the other three elements have a part to play as well.
    Jason Nesmith : You WILL go out there.
    Alexander Dane : I won't and nothing you say will make me.
    Jason Nesmith : The show must go on.
    Alexander Dane : ...Damn you.

    Next Competition:t.b.d.

  2. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by jahl View Post
    However your calculations of presuming every fencer has a ratio of 1:3 paying the referee levy in the region are flawed.

    For many regions especially in sabre and frequently in epee for regions the ratio is often 1:1 giving an entry fee of 45 (35 + 10). Often a region will have 4 or fewer fencers entering the qualifier so every fencer qualifies.
    Ah yes thanks I hadn't fully taken that into account.

    There are some extra tiers in the pricing at the BYC. We may have to given them names (instead of early bird or late)

    Lucky = 45
    No so lucky = 55
    Unlucky = 65

    (There are some eye watering YoY percentage increases in there if your entry fee was lucky one year and unlucky the other)

    The element of luck (or lack of) maybe the explained by the nature of a poll tax.

    The other alternative if some folks like the optics of 35 is to make the levy 17 for those who would be lucky enough to only pay 45. But then some will be unlucky and get an entry fee of 86 (collected from three people).

    It is more than possible (where there is a will) for the fee numbers and costs to be broken down both before the event and after the event (in the post event summary).

    ie the constituents of the regions could be told before the event what the qualifier is projected to cost x to run and then how it performed. The same is true of the entry fees and of how much levy was collected. Most of these numbers can be worked out from the public records of the qualifiers anyway.

    I think we all know that all the regions have a very good story and they really should blow their own horn a bit. There is one region that has already announced it has driven portion of the entry fee down by -5%? and I am sure it will still be the same high quality event. A great grassroots organisation working for its grassroot constituents at its finest and whom we should applaude.

    Quote Originally Posted by jahl View Post
    Also in reference to a previous comment of yours on Trade Stands. I do not know the conditions the EIS have the BYC but many Sports Venues do not allow any 3rd party selling of food and drink on their premises, they expect you to use their facilities. British Fencing do have a merchandise stall at the event raising additional funds. With regard to suppliers stalls, often the supplier at the event is also a Sponsor.
    I don't think this was me - at least not recently. But I have subsequently suggested on another thread (I am sure some have seen it) that we should add music to events. But this may be tricky on a number of fronts. ie. public performance license, equipment costs, inappropriate messaging in the music.

    Regarding the location of the BYC. I seem to remember a discussion about cost of location on another thread ...

  3. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I do have to say I find your posts and general demeanor in the way you respond to people fascinating. While I think it may not be particularly productive to focus on responding negatively to other peoples questions and thoughts, I do at least appreciate that you are not afraid to be antagonistic which is clearly something that British Fencing is in need of from its members if we are ever going to break out of the current situation.
    Please don't take offence, I'm naturally antagonistic in the way I make my points. Also I'm just frustrated with what appears to be the constant blue sky thinking exhibited by many on this forum.

    I don't just react negatively to other's opinion I have also set out what I believe to be viable solutions to our current woes (in more detail on other posts), in short that we must focus not on glamour but on numbers and economic viability.

    It's always exciting to think about TV and shiny shops and flashing lights but these are the results of success, not the pathway to it.

    The pathway to a successful and sustainable sport starts in the dusty school sports halls, the slightly smelly used jackets and the tired coach hauling their kit to yet another taster session, the forging of strong regional amateur competitive scene which encourages further participation and engagement with the sport and the construction of a national plan to retain more university fencers.

    It also involves the revamp of a convoluted ranking system and broken and inconsistent event calendar.

    You seem to be very keen to put forward solutions to the problems you see in our sport which is admirable, I wish there were more people engaged and I wish the governing body listened, but, in my opinion, you would have us run when we can barely walk.

  4. #44
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FencingMove View Post
    Please don't take offence, I'm naturally antagonistic in the way I make my points. Also I'm just frustrated with what appears to be the constant blue sky thinking exhibited by many on this forum.

    I don't just react negatively to other's opinion I have also set out what I believe to be viable solutions to our current woes (in more detail on other posts), in short that we must focus not on glamour but on numbers and economic viability.

    It's always exciting to think about TV and shiny shops and flashing lights but these are the results of success, not the pathway to it.

    The pathway to a successful and sustainable sport starts in the dusty school sports halls, the slightly smelly used jackets and the tired coach hauling their kit to yet another taster session, the forging of strong regional amateur competitive scene which encourages further participation and engagement with the sport and the construction of a national plan to retain more university fencers.

    It also involves the revamp of a convoluted ranking system and broken and inconsistent event calendar.

    You seem to be very keen to put forward solutions to the problems you see in our sport which is admirable, I wish there were more people engaged and I wish the governing body listened, but, in my opinion, you would have us run when we can barely walk.
    Thankyou for your measured and thoughtful reply. I agree entirely with about 90% of what you say. I asked a couple of questions in one the other thread about whether or not coaches are the problem, or the only viable drivers of a solution. Really it's a rhetorical question. In regards to blue sky thinking I think it's important to know a destination if you're going to efficiently plan the journey, likewise it's important to look at the past routes that have been tried in order to figure out which pathways don't actually get us anywhere.

    I worked as Head coach at a University club for 7 years and based on your replies in the BUCS thread I think you may have a point that as a system it's currently a lot more effective than what the mainstream BFA is pushing.
    One of the major frustrations I faced was that the Athletic Union at that particular university would not allow non student fencers to attend sessions unless they were Alumni.

    The point of retention of fencers at Universities is I think an important one. I believe there are three key areas involved in University retention of existing fencers.

    -Students are always going to prioritise their studies and the start of a new career post university as they should do. That being said the research is very clear that active participation in sport aids concentration, battles depression and stress and that taking the break in revision to go and do something active actually leads to better academic results.
    I think we need to start with our young fencers by educating them and their parents, that while they may drop to training once a week in exam times, it's beneficial to their grades to make sure they do keep training. Once this idea is acknowledged we are more likely to retain fencers through University and through the stresses of them starting new jobs based on the same principle.

    -The next barrier to retention of students at Universities is the quality of opponents. As Universities have such a turnover of students year on year it's pot luck what standard of fencer you will have to train with. I believe there is a tendency in some Universities for coaches to focus on the experienced fencers and leave the beginners to student lead sessions, the end result is inconsistency of teaching for the beginners and a lower baseline for the club year on year. I fell into this trap my third year into coaching at the University, we had been very successful for the first two years focusing completely on beginners with experienced fencers welcome to train alongside them for the footwork and partner exercises. By the third year the club had grown and the standard was much higher. My shift of focus to the fencers that were experienced and those I had coached for the past two years was a mistake on my part. The other way to maintain a more consistent baseline is to open Uni club training sessions to local fencers. I am amazed by the number of University clubs that don't allow this and haven't partnered with local clubs. If the BFA were to only establish one thing, that is the partnering of each University club with a local public club I think there would be a huge impact on retaining fencers through University.

    -The last barrier I see is quality of coaching and number of coaches. In an ideal world each club would have three coaches that specialise in each weapon and a beginners coach. This is sadly unrealistic. I'm inclined to think that the best investment the BFA could make would be to introduce a coaching scheme for University fencers in their first or second year focused on teaching them to give one to one lessons. More importantly I think that getting two coaches both at level 2 in a University club is essential. I think it's important to have a coach in place that can give beginners a real passion for the sport. Every year we had close to 100 students trying fencing for the first time for at least four weeks. Our biggest cause of drop out was lack of kit, space and coaching, mostly we retained about thirty dropping to fifteen after Easter. With a little support and a bit of a push I think those numbers could go up and lead to more fencers post university carrying on as members of the BFA. Sadly I think those that start fencing "late" are often seen as second class citizens because they are less likely to achieve competitively if they compete at all but for me these are the heart of British Fencing.

    In summary
    1- Educate young fencers and their parents that keeping active helps with exam results and stress.
    2- Partner University clubs with local clubs to raise the baseline
    3- Encourage coaches to focus on the beginners in their clubs each year to maintain a more solid baseline.
    4- (blue sky) Support Universities in getting at least two coaches working at every uni fencing club ( I am aware that there are some uni clubs that don't even have one coach) and maybe run an annual conference/course for University coaches designed to raise standards (maybe with Lazlo Jakob from Durham) and to go over what's working and what could be improved.
    Jason Nesmith : You WILL go out there.
    Alexander Dane : I won't and nothing you say will make me.
    Jason Nesmith : The show must go on.
    Alexander Dane : ...Damn you.

    Next Competition:t.b.d.

  5. #45
    Senior Member pavski's Avatar
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    my club partnered with 2 unis/colleges over the course of 2-3 years. It took a lot of time and effort to get the agreements in place covering fees etc and changes to the club constitution, attendence at freshers fairs etc .

    We got maybe 5 beginners out of all that effort and no engagement from the union/student body after that despite efforts to contact them. We came to the conclusion that students and univercities were an unreliable constituency and will not bother with this again.

  6. #46
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavski View Post
    my club partnered with 2 unis/colleges over the course of 2-3 years. It took a lot of time and effort to get the agreements in place covering fees etc and changes to the club constitution, attendence at freshers fairs etc .

    We got maybe 5 beginners out of all that effort and no engagement from the union/student body after that despite efforts to contact them. We came to the conclusion that students and univercities were an unreliable constituency and will not bother with this again.
    It's a shame that this is the result of your efforts. I think that attempting to integrate a University club with an external club may be a non starter and your experience seems to bear that out. What I'm thinking in terms of is almost the inverse of this. Whereby fencers from the external club be free to come and fence at University sessions. Most students won't leave their University bubble. You may have to put in limits in terms of the extent of permissable participation for example if there is not enough space to join footwork or pair exercises then limited only to training bouts. Essentially it's a suggestion of a loose right of access type affiliation. The external club may then offer a discount student rate if the university fencers want to reciprocate but pinning students down to commit to anything is fairly pointless.
    It really comes down to what the end goal really is. If it's for individual clubs to profit from student fencers for three years while they are at the local university then it's always going to be a non-starter. If instead the focus is on promoting the retention of Juniors in the sport and the recruitment of new University age participants who as young professionals may carry on fencing after University, then it leads to a somewhat different approach. My argument is that if we retain more Juniors nationwide and recruit more student fencers nationwide, eventually every club benefits because there are more fencers and the level stays higher as there is less lost investment in the junior fencers. The immediate benefit to the external club is an extra free fencing night or two for its members (Obviously if you already offer five nights a week this isn't much incentive but many clubs have two nights if not one) and a mutual experience of fencing different people, styles, levels etc.

    (also the BFA benefits from more members...etc... etc... etc)
    Jason Nesmith : You WILL go out there.
    Alexander Dane : I won't and nothing you say will make me.
    Jason Nesmith : The show must go on.
    Alexander Dane : ...Damn you.

    Next Competition:t.b.d.

  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akster View Post
    Yes.

    From the 2017 Accounts.
    http://britishfencing.com/uploads/pd...16-17-v1.0.pdf



    From the 2018 Accounts.
    https://www.britishfencing.com/wp-co...l-Accounts.pdf





    No breakdown of total event cost in the 2018 accounts. The interesting line in 2017 being that 4 of the 5 championships were positive contributors in 2017. Have all of the championships been given the "where possible" treatment since? I seem to recall the entry fee is capped/set by the EFC/FIE on there events?

    I believe my suggestion was the need for transparency and that the regions who are collecting 30 of the 65 BYC fee (via a charge on all entries - a poll tax) could and should be transparent.

    The total charge for each entry for the BYC 2019 is 65 which is up from 52 which is an increase of 25%
    Despite a little embarrassment, I really like what I do to support fencing. This is a great sport.

  8. #48
    Member Penfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavski View Post
    my club partnered with 2 unis/colleges over the course of 2-3 years. It took a lot of time and effort to get the agreements in place covering fees etc and changes to the club constitution, attendence at freshers fairs etc .

    We got maybe 5 beginners out of all that effort and no engagement from the union/student body after that despite efforts to contact them. We came to the conclusion that students and univercities were an unreliable constituency and will not bother with this again.

    we too tried this. We got involved with GCSE sport at a local school and ran fencing lessons at no charge for 3 years. We had 12-16 children each term take part and we have had one child continue. It was soul destroying- giving up an evening (and as I work shifts as a nurse, trying to ensure that I could actually go and do this). We offered free taster sessions, we offered to run a session for all the PE staff.. we offered reduce cost membership (10 per month), we also went into a few other schools and ran taster sessions (taking a days annual leave to do it) and at the end of 3 years have had one child join the club. Despite all our efforts, fencing is still seen as an elite sport done by posh people..

    So I am not sure how you attract people into the sport because I'm running out of ideas!

  9. #49

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    https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/...o-poor-health/

    https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/...ncing-lessons/

    As you will see being able to actively engage with the children can lead to an increase in numbers.

    We have been lucky enough to receive a few of the Swindon fencers after their introduction years to the sport by the Swindon coach when they wanted to develop their fencing further. Al I can say is that it is down to the enthusiasm, passion and ability to think outside of the box Swindon does to keep the numbers up.

    Long may that continue.

  10. #50
    Member Athos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I agree participation in fencing is low.
    I agree that we have a finite market as a result and as such are not particularly attractive to sponsors and other businesses.
    The reason I think in terms of these sorts of stands is that we won't ever turn fencing into a sport that can be televised until we get people watching it live. - As I see it the limiting factors for watching live fencing is that A)Public don't know the rules, B)It's very fast. C) in between rounds there can be a lot of downtime.
    In a program you can explain the rules answering problem A). In the downtime between rounds you can give spectators something to do like shopping at stands, this has a duel purpose in that it gives bored parents something to do at competitions which may result in them being more likely to give up their weekend. You could also have free/low cost taster sessions running alongside which gives the public a chance to appreciate what is involved. Part of the reason I mention national chain gyms is that they generally have a policy of show up at every trade fair/expo possible to recruit members to the organisation but they are really just one example.
    The other point in inviting multiple kit manufacturers etc is that it creates a buzz and at least the illusion of an active and thriving sport.
    ... As a question, which was the last open in the UK that went onto any of the free "What's on" websites as something that people could spectate at?
    I agree that there is a definite issue with people not knowing about fencing and this is keeping the numbers low.

    As someone who started fencing in my mid-twenties and is hoping to go back to it aged 40, there was a sense that adults, who were never going to make it into elite squads etc were not really valued. At my last club we definitely felt we were there for our entry fees while the young elite fencers got all the training and support. When I went to competitions I went entirely on my own.

    There are two clear aspects to the sport - the elite and the recreational. We would benefit from pushing the recreational aspect:
    1) Promote it as a sport for everybody. People think it's a 'posh' sport and it's not for them. This doesn't have to prove true. Clubs should aim to develop their adult fencers' skills. I left originally because I felt I had little prospect of improving and became disillusioned.

    2) Have leisure centres host clubs - they're easy to find and have parking; they're better at marketing their offering too!

    3) Run beginners' courses to attract new people. It's hard to start something completely different, especially if you don't know anyone else who does it.

    4) Provide opportunities for progression /development for adults.

    5) Competitions for everyone to enter.

    6) Weekend sessions.

    I know some clubs do this but from my recent exploration of clubs local to me, not all do.

    Fencing is fantastic exercise and great for mental health because it is intellectually consuming too. It also stirs the imagination like no other sport. Cash in on this. Run demonstrations (Chichester Fencing Club came to my village fair a few years ago and ran a demo).

    People need to know it's out there and that they are welcome to take part. Cycling is doing this with it's 'Let's Ride' initiative. Fencing needs to get into the same mindset.
    INIGO You're using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?
    MAN IN BLACK I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain -
    INIGO Naturally, you must expect me to attack with Capo Ferro -
    MAN IN BLACK - naturally - but I find Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro, don't you?

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