This article forms part of a series of reports which accompany the 2021-22 BF Annual Report.
As in-person education and development opportunities became possible again, we continued to provide the alternative delivery methods we created during lockdown but we were also very excited to re-introduce face-to-face delivery methods.
All coaches with fencers involved with the Athlete Development Programmes (ADP) were invited to attend zoom workshops to learn more about the topics that athletes were covering in the programme. These included:
The work with the ADP fencers highlighted some future training needs for coaches and staff. One identified area was around how coaches can better support athlete welfare and wellbeing. As a result, we designed a new course – Listening, Questioning and Responding – to help and prepare coaches to respond and signpost a person who shares a personal concern (as a reminder all safeguarding concerns should be reported, see here).
Our work with Sport England, UK Coaching and The True Athlete Project continued to provide coach development opportunities:
UK Sport– ADP coach Lorraine Rose became the second female fencing coach to join the Female Coaches Leadership Programme following in the footsteps of Katie Arup who participated the previous year. The programme forms part of a plan to more than double female representation in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community in the three years from Tokyo to Paris.
Another UK Sport funded programme saw ADP Coaches Beth Davidson and Dominique Szokolovics accepted to the prestigious UK Coaching Women’s Coaching Programme.
Aimed at female coaches working within identified clubs, universities or at regional and national levels in Assistant or Head Coach roles, the Women’s Coaching Programme offers support to female coaches aspiring to progress within their sport’s talent and performance pathway.
True Athlete Project (TAP) – Continuing our incredibly successful partnership, TAP and British Fencing took on another collaboration to develop the BF Mentoring Programme where 8 athletes were matched 8 new mentors. The aim of the programme is to support the person behind the young athlete, and prove that when the person flourishes, so does their sporting performance. This is done through TAP’s pioneering, holistic development curriculum based on five themes: Performance, Identity & Values, Mindfulness, Community responsibility and Nature & Connectedness.
Change Foundation ASD Pilot – As part of an exciting pilot project with the Change Foundation, 12 highly experienced coaches from the Change Foundation undertook the two-day BF Core Coach course as part of a pilot project delivering fencing to young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through a series of after-school sessions. Using a creative coaching methodology, the aim is to develop motor skills, encourage social integration and provide a unique experience for young people who would otherwise never access fencing and don’t engage with mainstream sports.
BF Online Renewal Safeguarding and Protecting Children Course (Fencing Specific) was launched in June 2020 and has proved very popular as an online resource. Over 100 Coaches/Club welfare Officers (CWO) took advantage of this medium to renew their training in the last year. The course continues to be offered for those refreshing their safeguarding training.
En Guard, Ready?, and Time to Listen welfare officer courses were run as an online classroom enabling our Club and Regional Welfare Officers to stay up to date with their training, this meant that clubs were able to re-open as soon as possible once restrictions were lifted.
It is the intention to continue to offer courses using a mix of online learning, virtual classrooms and fully in person training over the 2022-23 season. We are also undertaking a full review of current welfare courses to ensure we keep them up to date and relevant for our clubs, regions and wider workforce.
Domestic Training and Development
During the 2021-22 season the Home Countries conducted a review into the existing Home Nation level 2 domestic referee training to align it within the overall referee development pathway and lead more intuitively into the BF level 3. The objective was to create a consistent and updated approach to the delivery of referee education and assessment process. This resulted in a new assessment process consisting of an online interactive seminar and theory assessment with and practical assessments supported by ongoing feedback.
In August 2021 a recruitment campaign for the new referee instructors and informal referee mentors was launch, resulting in 10 instructors and 29 mentors.
Due to the challenges of Covid, lack of competition reduced the number of Level 2 and Level 3 training and assessment opportunities.
We continue to work with competition organisers across the UK to identify opportunities to run Level 3 referee theory and practical assessment.
(Thanks to the organisers of the Birmingham International, Welsh Open, and Hamlet)
Referees that achieved Level 3 in the 12 months up to April 2022:
Foil – Maddie Pearce, Joe Pearce
Sabre – Callum Wilson
In March 2021, as part of the BF Referee Pathway Programme development activities, world-class FIE referees Ambre Civiero, Vasil Milenchev and Isacco Scomparin, each ran a weapon-specific online webinars with in-depth video analysis of top-level Senior international fencing. These sessions were also opened out to ADP coaches and athletes.
Member of the FIE Refereeing Commission, Claus Janka, joined the sessions to share his insight on the interpersonal skills that a referee needs, and the relationships they must cultivate.
Jen Sancroft (Scottish Fencing Lead Referee) started a Women in Refereeing group providing opportunities for female referees to network and develop their refereeing skills. Currently there are 7 women (out of 25) in the BF Referee Pathway Programme and increasing the number of female referees remains a priority for BF.
Looking forward to 2022-23, the intention is to pilot level 2 domestic para fencing refereeing education, review (and potentially recruit additional) referee instructors and mentors and re-start Level 4 exams.
International Qualification & Selection
International activity was severely impacted by Covid and the resulting travel restrictions impacted the ability of pathway referees to attend sufficient competitions to become EFC qualified and/or prepare for FIE exams. In October 2021 the FIE held the first FIE refereeing exams since April 2019.
Summary achievements (includes the full season to July 2022):
Stakeholder Funding: Most of the funding to support the development of international level referees continues to come from the UK Sport International Relations Programme. This funding is used to support referees preparing for their international referee exams (FIE licence) to support GBR FIE qualified referees to further their careers as they seek Grand Prix listing and ultimately Senior World Championship and Olympic selection.
Read the full 2021-22 Directors’ Report here.
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