18/01/2022- Governance

Announcement from British Fencing Board – Jan 2022

Following discussion at the Board Meeting in November and in light of the continued challenges faced by the BF staff and volunteers in supporting the re-start of domestic and international competitive activity, the Board issues the following announcement.

At the November British Fencing (BF) Board meeting, the Board reviewed progress across most aspects of our sport and were in general very happy. Against a backdrop of a return to fencing that has been difficult and stressful for many fencers, coaches, volunteers, clubs and BF Staff, a good number of clubs have already returned to previous capacities, competitions have been run with decent numbers, membership numbers are recovering steadily, and we are managing to select and facilitate participation in international competition (despite the many challenges we face with travel).

Of course, there is still some way to go, as the recent and varying restrictions that have been put in place across the UK show, but we know many people are working hard to recover our sport. Thank you for your efforts.

The Board also recognises that in a very dynamic environment, BF, its staff and volunteers don’t get everything right and where that happens, we will work hard to rectify that, with the resources that we have available to us. We also know that from time to time there are differences of opinion on policy direction with individual members. Alternative viewpoints are listened to and taken into account where appropriate but it is also important to recognise that BF must make policy that is in the interests of the sport as a whole, taking account of information and experience that individual members may not have.

To deliver competitions, we rely on the goodwill of not just BF staff, but all our participants – volunteers (including BF staff who volunteer), referees, coaches and fencers (including their parents). We want our collective behaviour as a community to create environments that are welcoming and inclusive for everyone built on our values of Respect, Honesty and Excellence. The vast majority of members also respect this and behave in a way that supports this goal.

The Board is aware though of increased levels of poor behaviour by a small number of members and parents, often directed at BF staff, volunteers and officials. This has occurred at recent BF events and also continues around the planning of international competitions. The Board finds this behaviour unacceptable and will support BF management in taking appropriate action. If people are not happy with something or disagree with policies, procedures or decisions, they must not take it out on other participants, volunteers or BF staff, many of whom are simply doing their best to get our sport up and running in difficult circumstances.

Finally, as the National Governing Body we have a responsibility to reduce risks of COVID transmission in fencing and therefore, at this current time, the rules remain in place in relation to wearing face coverings and all reasonable steps will be taken to reduce crowding around pistes to protect athletes and officials. The majority of members have been very supportive and followed these rules.

We remain conscious of the difficult decisions we (and other event organisers) had to make to re-start events at all, knowingly compromising on the event ‘experience’ as we faced venue issues (lack of availability and size), volunteer shortages, and a responsibility to reduce the risks of COVID for all participants in line with government guidance.

In future we look forward to being able to welcome back more spectators at our events, but at this time would encourage all participants (including potential spectators) to refer to published protocols and guidance from event organisers before taking decisions about whether to attend an event. In the meantime, participant welfare in relation to COVID remains one of our highest priorities and event organisers will have our full support in putting in place risk mitigation measures.

Let’s all work together to continue the good progress we have been making.

The Board of British Fencing

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