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Thread: When did we lose it?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    Default When did we lose it?

    I've started this side thread to go alongside the enough complaining thread because there are aspects of the discussion that turn on actions of the BFA and the Home countries and could do with a certain degree of thought. Apologies on the essay, this is all obviously complex and my thoughts are still forming.

    The point was raised that the BFA apparently have no Grass roots plan... but from what I remember this was meant to be the remit of the devolved home countries, to pursue and develop fencing in their individual countries.
    I just spent some time looking over the England fencing page and from what I can see the focus has shifted away from grass roots development and support, to focusing almost exclusively on the England fencing team.... so in short it's a reflection of what the BFA was meant to be doing in terms of international competition and developing National teams.
    So as far as I can tell, with England fencing at least they then tried to devolve to the regions the role of developing grass roots fencing and the regions then started doing the hub days (again focused on already competitive fencers) and focusing on their teams for the winton cup, and further devolution of responsibility then goes to the counties, which don't have either resources or enough active members and somewhere along the line communication isn't reaching the clubs.

    Now it's good in principle that there is a infrastructure in place.
    NGB-HomeCountry-Region-County-Club. But at each level you need a committee of volunteers to organise and run things and there simply aren't that many people that have the time to give.

    I'm struck by the example of Amazon who discovered that every extra click a person had to make lost them up to 25% of final sales. Then we wonder that the fencing world isn't growing.

    The next thought I have is that when I started fencing, I was a member of the BFA. I had a little card that went in my wallet with my name and membership number on it. Whenever I opened my wallet it was there amongst the other cards. A point came where the devolution happened, I didn't feel at the time that the new home country devision was particularly relevant to me. To me it felt like I was just being categorised in a different department of the same company. I watched people getting frustrated with the BFA and there was a sense of ownership from the fencers and a sense that the BFA could be held accountable. I'm struck by how the fencers I see now seem to regard the BFA as some separate entity that makes decisions completely outside of their control.

    So in essence the question is this, has the devolution efforts of the BFA failed?
    Has it diluted the quality of volunteer participants across too wide a field?
    Have the devolved organisations fulfilled their purpose or become distracted?
    Do you as a member of the BFA feel like the BFA is working for you as a member?
    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. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Do you as a member of the BFA feel like the BFA is working for you as a member?
    I honestly don't, and the worse thing is that I don't even know where I would start in affecting change. I can't even fathom what the BFA's rationale is in half of their decisions.

    I loved the Amazon analogy by the way. Brilliantly relevant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    So as far as I can tell, with England fencing at least they then tried to devolve to the regions the role of developing grass roots fencing
    Which regions are desperately trying to do however BF think developing grass roots fencing is by adding extra cost to the running regional events to fund the GB athletes at the top. For those regional BYC qualifier organisers on here, they will know what I mean!

    I wish there was more transparency from the top so we have a better understanding of the decisions made which impact so many.

    As a finance manager myself, my quick sums of the money regions (particularly the larger regions with larger entries) bring into the BYCs, for example, I cannot see why such an increase in fees was needed. Some explanation would be helpful.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    One concept that I think often gets a bit confused is "grass roots fencing". I get the impression that for many involved in the system Grass roots means, Young fencers that are starting to compete and are as such a potential source of revenue. For me grass roots means anyone that starts fencing regardless of age or ambition, that regularly participates at a club.
    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. #5

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    Agreed - grassroots should cover everyone but dont' worry I am sure the GB Cup will be next to get the "where possible" treatment too.

    sad to see this ...

    *IMPORTANT*

    Entries to the Eastern Region BYC Qualifiers have been temporarily suspended whilst costs are re-evaluated because British Fencing have increased a number of costs to the region, and also you guys as individual fencers.

  6. #6

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    [QUOTE=Akster;323387]Agreed - grassroots should cover everyone but dont' worry I am sure the GB Cup will be next to get the "where possible" treatment too.

    It already has. Entry fee up to £30 and referee fine from £100 to £150

  7. #7

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    [QUOTE=Hazel;323389]
    Quote Originally Posted by Akster View Post
    Agreed - grassroots should cover everyone but dont' worry I am sure the GB Cup will be next to get the "where possible" treatment too.

    It already has. Entry fee up to £30 and referee fine from £100 to £150
    Apologies - perhaps I should know this. Does the GB Cup include a £10 fee for each entrant in the qualifier? Almost afraid to ask in case someone gets ideas...

  8. #8
    Member Penfold's Avatar
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    Interesting.. I would say, as a grass roots fencer, that I have no idea what the BFA does for me or my club other than make life difficult!!

    I am often told that fencing is an elite sport (don't all howl at me) and sometimes it feels that way. competing is expensive and for the children to compete, it required time and money. same for adults. For the children I teach, that's not possible. There just is not the spare money to pay travelling expenses and entry costs etc.

    access to good coaching is also a problem, we are lucky to have 2 good coaches but it took a long long time to find them. There are just no coaches out there it seems!

    there is no real way of developing the childrens' fencing beyond a certain level unless you have dedicated parents, and a fair bit of money with a willingness to travel. I'd like to see a developmental pathway that is accessible to all.. not just a few.

    my dream is a national salle with satellites that employ good coaches, where a club can book time with the coach to work on how to develop fencing and coaching skills. once a upon a time Jes Smith ran monthly sessions for club coaches to attend to work on coaching skills.. but he retired.. and there is nothing in its place. I admire what LP have done but that's an hours drive each way on a good day (over 2hrs each way last time I went there) so a bit our of our reach.

    Its been suggested in the club that an inter-club competition would be fun- maybe the regions could look at this? a low key way to get people competing in an non threatening environment.. we are losing the entry level competitions and entering something like elite epee as a first comp must be scary.

    A few clubs run coaching days (usually when I am working and cant go); maybe this is something the regions could look at developing, co-ordinate? There must be a lot of hidden talent out there that goes unnoticed, certainly we have had children at our club who showed a lot of potential but we were unable to develop it. One is now at uni in Italy, lets hope she comes back with amazing fencing skills.

    One competition calendar would be great.. that I don't get charged to put a competition on- but that's a common complaint.

    I'd like more transparency- I have no idea what the BFA does other than try to raise money to fund the elite athletes (I'm sure that's simplistic) but communication is key to anything, and that's a massive failing.

    I guess I'm saying I don't feel anyone listens and I don't feel I have a voice.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Penfold View Post
    Its been suggested in the club that an inter-club competition would be fun- maybe the regions could look at this? a low key way to get people competing in an non threatening environment.. we are losing the entry level competitions and entering something like elite epee as a first comp must be scary.

    A few clubs run coaching days (usually when I am working and cant go); maybe this is something the regions could look at developing, co-ordinate? There must be a lot of hidden talent out there that goes unnoticed, certainly we have had children at our club who showed a lot of potential but we were unable to develop it. One is now at uni in Italy, lets hope she comes back with amazing fencing skills.

    One competition calendar would be great.. that I don't get charged to put a competition on- but that's a common complaint.
    Absolutely agree that a more accessible local competition calendar is required but this is down to the regions to implement. A few competitions a year for local fencers where they didn't feel they would be completely outclassed by fencers on the national circuit would be good.

    I don't know how much power over strategy has been left to the regions on this but I feel that there SHOULD be minimum standards set by the BFA in terms of setting aside resource for bringing people into the sport and retaining them. There doesn't seem to be any consistent strategy for this, or at least none that I can see.

    On a side note I think the GB cup was a fantastic initiative and served as a great way to bring uni/young adults into the competitive side of the sport.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Penfold View Post
    I'd like more transparency- I have no idea what the BFA does other than try to raise money to fund the elite athletes (I'm sure that's simplistic) but communication is key to anything, and that's a massive failing.

    I guess I'm saying I don't feel anyone listens and I don't feel I have a voice.
    The GB Cup is a great idea. I hope it continues and goes from strength to strength.

    I see no reference to a levy of £10 for each entrant in the GB Cup regional qualifier. Which is a good thing.

    It has been suggested to me that at the £10 entry fee for each entrant is a poll tax.

    A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual.
    Back of the envelope. For each entrant in the BYC the entry fee is £35 plus 3 lots of the poll tax. 1 in 3 of the entrants qualify. The fact that 3 parents pay the poll tax for each entrant doesn't really change too much.
    The fee is £65 per entry. Not taking into account the regional fines for referees or late entry fines, etc.

    This compared to the EYC entry cost of £33 i find is very interesting.

    Let me restate the comparison it is £65 vs £33 for each entry.

    What would be interesting in terms of transparency is for each region when they announce the qualifiers to break down the cost of the qualifiers entry fee and provide a comparison for year on year.

    "It is entirely up to regions how they collect this from the competitors" is an interesting sentence but that doesn't say regions should be less transparent?

    Bonus points for those regions who also openly suggest the alternative of entering the EYC (SYC, etc) instead for those who can't afford the BYC to encourage "grassroots" participation.

    I have never heard a statement that links a poll tax to a "grassroots initiative".

    It pains me to say the following. Given that no region is other than 100% volunteer run. (and my daughter and I are truly thankful - and I insisted that we both volunteered last year to help on days she was not competing).

    However, I do think the regions need to take this opportunity to be transparent on the cost of the qualifiers, and how their qualifier entry fee's is structured. Where they have no visibility on the cost they should ask people to contact the relevant party if they have further questions.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    I'm aware that Devon County Fencing Union have managed to successfully implement a series of inter-club competitions. As I understand it each weapon has a series of competitions that are held on a club night at a hosting club. At the end of the series the rankings of the competitors I believe signal who the champion is this time round. Or something in that order. Those competitions are also open to fencers from outside of the county and I believer there is some sort of regional ranking list as well now for the South West. It would be interesting to get an idea as to whether it's a model that could be rolled out nationwide.
    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.

  12. #12

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    " What would be interesting in terms of transparency is for each region when they announce the qualifiers to break down the cost of the qualifiers entry fee and provide a comparison for year on year."

    As Regional Development Officer for the Eastern Region, I'm quite happy to openly discuss our costs and what we do with any profit we raise. Up until the BF announcement we were charging £25 to enter our youth championships, even though there has been a £3 increase from BF, we have adjusted our entry fee to ¬£27, we as a region do not wish to pass on the full £3 increase. Our costs are roughly £2400 (venue hire, referees, trophies and medals, food and drinks for referees and volunteers). In addition to this we will have to pay BF an event licence fee and admin costs to Sport80 and the ¬£10 levy. We will also gave to pay the £200 referee fine unless we can send someone for less than the cost of the fine.

    Any profit that we make is reinvested into our region. As a regional committee we subsidise the cost of our Cadet, Senior and Veteran, Winton Cup teams all of which are seen as grassroots. . We have offered a 50% subsidy to coaches in our region that book onto a coaching course in our region. So far we have had a Lv1-2 and a Lv3 course held. Each year we hold regular training sessions for all ages and all weapons. For a second year and as a way of getting more younger, less experienced fencers to compete , we hold a team competition for foil and this year for sabre as well; which we as a committee also subsidise. We have run subsidised refereeing theory courses and also a practical refereeing workshop.

    We can't run an inter club competition, simply because of the geographical size of the region and the transport links. It can take upto 2.5 hours to get from one point to another. That kind of idea would have to be organised by county.

    If anyone would like to have a look at our accounts or see what we do or how we as a region invest any profits we make, please feel to come to our AGM. Details will be on our Facebook page. As a committee of only 5 people, all of whom work full time, we would love to see lots of people there, willing to give up their time fore free to develop our region even further.


    Thanks
    David Cook

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    ^^^^ what he says 😁 (Dave Cook)

    As one of the 5, I think we do a lot as a region which is why the cost hike by BF is such a Ďslap in the faceí. We certainly donít want to put entry fees up but it is a case of having to to avoid a loss.

    Such a big event like the BYC qualifiers in such a big region, demands a large venue (8 court hall over 2 days) and good referees, all which you know are not cheap. We have had to combine with fundraising like a raffle, 2nd hand kit sale (10% to the region), piste sponsorship and refreshments stall so we can offer the subsidies mentioned above. This is why we plead for volunteers which turns out to be the same faces each time.
    I am staggered for such a large region, we struggle so much for help.

    Desire this, grassroots development is part of our vision as well as supporting Fencers, coaches and referees at all levels.

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    I do love what I do to support fencing despite having a little moan 😊 itís a great sport to be part of.

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    Default BF Events profits and losses

    Guys, let's put this into perspective.

    British Fencing is losing £10,000 -£20,000 a year on events without including staff costs. That is unsustainable.

    BF is looking to close the gap. It is looking to do this in two ways:

    1. Raising revenues, by increasing the number of entries, and increasing the price per entry. The entry for the British Youth Championships will be £35. That compares with the entry fee for the England Youth Championships of £33. Both are less than the cost of a Leon Paul non-electric foil, and half the cost of a Leon Paul standard electric foil (both very fine products). The hope is the number of entries should go up given the selection criteria have been relaxed from one in four to one in three entries qualifying.

    2. Reducing costs. BF is looking at all aspects of running competitions to make sure that it continues to provide quality events, while keeping costs as low as possible.

    Compare this with the NAC in Kansas run by the US Fencing Association next month. There is a registration fee of $75 and an entry fee of $95 - total of $170 - that's £130 in sterling. The USFA makes more than $600,000 a year from its competitions.

  16. #16
    Member wide eagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penfold View Post
    Interesting.. I would say, as a grass roots fencer, that I have no idea what the BFA does for me or my club other than make life difficult!!
    As some one who for some reason keeps volunteering to run Winton and Excalibur teams for regions and counties I feel this. They have certainly made my team selection issues a lot harder in the last couple of years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Debsy72 View Post
    Which regions are desperately trying to do however BF think developing grass roots fencing is by adding extra cost to the running regional events to fund the GB athletes at the top. For those regional BYC qualifier organisers on here, they will know what I mean!
    I think this is a perception a lot of people have. I have been involved in fencing from one level to another for 17 years now, and until the GB cup I dont think I have seen any real initiatives aimed at supporting the grass roots/intermediate fencers who are not ever going to be top end international athletes.

    There almost certainly has been more and I am just being a victim of my poor memory but that doesn't stop that being the overall perception. I wouldn't be surprised if that has contributed to the under performing crowdfunder. I certainly heard several people say they would give to individuals and not BFA.

    Quote Originally Posted by Francophile View Post
    Guys, let's put this into perspective.

    British Fencing is losing £10,000 -£20,000 a year on events without including staff costs. That is unsustainable.

    BF is looking to close the gap. It is looking to do this in two ways:

    1. Raising revenues, by increasing the number of entries, and increasing the price per entry. The entry for the British Youth Championships will be £35. That compares with the entry fee for the England Youth Championships of £33. Both are less than the cost of a Leon Paul non-electric foil, and half the cost of a Leon Paul standard electric foil (both very fine products). The hope is the number of entries should go up given the selection criteria have been relaxed from one in four to one in three entries qualifying.

    2. Reducing costs. BF is looking at all aspects of running competitions to make sure that it continues to provide quality events, while keeping costs as low as possible.

    Compare this with the NAC in Kansas run by the US Fencing Association next month. There is a registration fee of $75 and an entry fee of $95 - total of $170 - that's £130 in sterling. The USFA makes more than $600,000 a year from its competitions.
    I dont think you can really compare an NAC to the BYCs. Though otherwise I completely agree with you.
    This isn't fencing, this is SPARTA

  17. #17
    Senior Member Nick's Avatar
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    Having just moved to Essex it's nice to see that there is at least a few people taking an active interest in going the extra mile.
    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.

  18. #18
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    Default Regional Ranking

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    I believer there is some sort of regional ranking list as well now for the South West. It would be interesting to get an idea as to whether it's a model that could be rolled out nationwide.
    The South West does have a regional ranking system - started by Jim Pilkington. The results from all senior competitions such as the Regional Champs,County Champs, Opens etc held in the region are collated. Each competition has a 'RIF' allocated. The ranking is updated after each event. We select our GB Cup team from this ranking.

  19. #19
    Senior Member ChrisL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Francophile View Post
    British Fencing is losing £10,000 -£20,000 a year on events without including staff costs. That is unsustainable.
    I've heard for years about how much BF loses on events and I know its possible to estimate but I'm still unclear where all the money exactly goes.

    Would it ever be possible to see an event budget for a BF event to have an idea where it all goes? Everything I've ever seen has been incredibly generalised to the point of being meaningless. When half the events costs are simply designated "staff" with no breakdown of where that is its irrelevant data.

    The lack of transparency is definitely a major factor in a lot of people's dissatisfaction and distrust of BF

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisL View Post
    I've heard for years about how much BF loses on events and I know its possible to estimate but I'm still unclear where all the money exactly goes.

    Would it ever be possible to see an event budget for a BF event to have an idea where it all goes? Everything I've ever seen has been incredibly generalised to the point of being meaningless. When half the events costs are simply designated "staff" with no breakdown of where that is its irrelevant data.

    The lack of transparency is definitely a major factor in a lot of people's dissatisfaction and distrust of BF
    Yes.

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

    Income from events for the period 2016-17 fell slightly to £98,375. This was primarily due to the loss
    of sponsorship income, as the majority of competitions attracted greater entry numbers. This small
    loss was compounded by a larger than expected increase in expenditure (excluding attributed staff
    costs) to £126,760.
    Despite some positive financial results in the British Youth Championships, the Cadet and Junior
    British Championships and the British School Team Championships, the events portfolio as a whole
    continues to make a significant and increasing loss, thus offsetting the increase in membership
    revenue. This loss is primarily due to the running of FIE & EFC international events where there is
    limited ability to affect income levels due to entry fee limits and a requirement for minimum
    standards that are costly to implement.
    From the 2018 Accounts.
    https://www.britishfencing.com/wp-co...l-Accounts.pdf

    This year we have made significant progress in reducing the losses in running BF Events and it is the Boardís
    continued strategy to move our BF Events program over time towards at least break even by running more
    events, increasing numbers and fees (where possible) and reducing costs, all subject to providing a quality
    experience for fencers.
    Event Income 108,051
    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%

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