October Operational Update 2020
A summary of BF operations since our last update in July to the end of October as we continue to serve our members and work at all levels to support the future of our sport.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the executive team at BF has continued to operate, supporting our members and advocating for our sport as we work towards a return to fencing.
We provided our last Operational Update in July (you can see that update here). Since then, our community across the UK has adapted to the introduction of various local and national lockdown restrictions, and we continue to update and support in response to government announcements across the Home Nations.
The Covid-19 zone on our website has been kept up to date with the current status for Home Countries and we have published information on our social media and other communication channels, including a weekly email digest to subscribers (subscribe here).
Our focus since July has been on planning and supporting our return to fencing through community discussions, resources and by making much of our work accessible to our members through digital platforms. With the announcement of further measures until early December 2020, we continue to look ahead to a time when we can all return to the piste safely, together. Behind the scenes, we continue to advocate for our sport, our clubs and our coaches to government and funding bodies.
Since our last update, we have continued to support:
The whole sport through:
- Advocating for fencing – we invited members and clubs to share their views with us on the impact of coronavirus on fencing in our communities, ahead of a submission to the DCMS Committee in November.
- Lobbying for a governmental response – we joined forces with the UK’s sport and physical activity sector to launch a new campaign called #SaveOurSports and wrote to the Prime Minister in September urging the Government to save grassroots sport, fitness and leisure facilities from permanent closure due to COVID-19.
- Celebrating and supporting the black fencing community – following on from our community listening event and athlete feedback we celebrated Black History Month in October. We shared articles from members of our community including referees, athletes, coaches, Olympians, board members and independent senior directors.
- Continuing the cross Home Nation Return to Fencing Working Group to support fencing across the UK with advice and guidance for returning to fencing once restrictions are lifted.
- Updating the current status for all Home Nations via our dedicated Covid-19 zone page – linking out to Home Nation association, government and sport agency information.
- Maintaining vital functions such as safeguarding and welfare (Are you OK?), insurance, updating registers, planning for future COVID-secure events, developing coach education and seeking future funding to support the sport.
- Continuing governance – we published the Executive Reports from the Annual Report as a series of website articles and hosted the 2020 AGM online, welcoming 2 new board members, Pat Aiyunero and James Williams.
- Closely monitoring the news regarding International events and updates from the FIE, as well as sharing news of events like the upcoming World University Summer Games, to be held in China in 2021.
- Participating in World Fencing Day in September, bringing the whole sport together across borders to share the message that we are one fencing family.
Our members, clubs, coaches and volunteers through:
- Updating our dedicated club and coach webpages and sharing opportunities to apply for funding.
- Discussing what the ‘new normal’ looks like for club fencing in the Club Digest, sent to subscribers.
- Launching a track and trace option for club sessions with our new activity finder from Playwaze. We hosted a series of webinars to introduce clubs to the system and you can watch the replay of the track and trace session and ask questions here.
- Creating a new online coach register, to make it easier for registered coaches to update their credentials and appear on a dedicated URL on our website. The new system will be phased in by 2021. We are accompanying the transition period with a series of guides and ‘how-to’ articles to assist coaches in creating their online profile.
- Updating our resources for a safe return to fencing, including sample surveys and risk assessments, attendance and safety check templates, financial templates, FAQs and guidance for first aiders.
- Launching our online, fencing specific safeguarding and protection of children refresher course, now available here.
- Launching our free online Covid awareness training platform, for all England members who are in a coach or venue management role.
- Inviting all previous non-members to sign up for 90 days’ free BF membership through our Introductory Membership Promotion. This ensures all participants are insured to fence when they return to their club.
- Supporting our members with questions and information about our new look membership platform. We will be providing further video tutorials to assist members over the next few months, as the platform has a mobile-friendly, accessible new look.
- Hosting further community discussion groups with set themes and guests. A timetable, including specific sessions for Covid-19 officers can be found here.
- Providing further online welfare courses for club welfare officers to bring themselves up to date with the training requirements for their roles.
- Supporting our affiliated clubs in recruiting BF certified coaches on our careers page.
- Celebrating the achievements of our referees, as they progress along the BF Referee Pathway, including additions to the FIE Master Referee List.
- Publishing our July and October editions of the Sword, with articles and content adapted to the situation as the world responded to lockdown. The October magazine launched our new Athlete Pathway Model which sets out the framework for all our future work in performance fencing.
- Opening online nominations for the BF Awards 2019-2020. The BF Awards recognise some of the best clubs, coaches, fencers and volunteers for their contribution to fencing.
Our funded projects and programmes through:
- Continuing with our campaign to support the work of the Scout Association, with over 30 videos available to support delivery both virtually and in their Scout settings. The content is a great way for Scouts to get creative and gain a special edition #ITriedFencing #TheGreatIndoors badge. Scout Leaders seeking to get involved in this project are invited to complete this form.
- Supporting the Muslim Scout Fellowship with their hugely successful virtual summer camp.
- Delivering fencing through our Muslim Girls Fence project, in partnership with Maslaha, with a number of groups benefiting from both weekly online fencing sessions, as well creative sessions. The network of coaches continue to meet on a weekly basis, sharing ideas, learnings, challenges and importantly, supporting each other.
- Leading a Twitter takeover in September, with the Sport for Development Coalition and our partner Maslaha.
- Exploring the marriage of Sport and Art, one of the great visions of Pierre De Coubertin for the Olympic Games, through the creative elements of our Projects and Programmes.
- Publishing enhanced guidelines for Higher Education (HE) settings and working with HE stakeholders to react to changing government guidelines and local restrictions.
- Hosting a second HE networking group in September. Over 30 HE fencing club representatives attended. This was a great opportunity for BF to listen to sector-specific concerns and requests for support in anticipation of the HE sector returning to fencing later on this year.
- Publishing a suite of marketing assets for Affiliated Clubs, which were supplied to University clubs in time for the digital freshers weeks at the start of the academic year. The versatile suite of social media images and posters can be used by any affiliated club, depending on the audience they want to attract. Any BF affiliated club can request one or all of the three folders of assets, designed to appeal to ‘social fencers’, ‘gamers and creatives’ or ‘performance athletes’.
Our pathway and elite fencers through:
- Launching a new Athlete Development Pathway Zone including information on the Pathway Model, based on the FTEM model, including stages, stage components and the weapons frameworks. You can read more about the Pathway Model here.
- Running online Athlete Development Programme training sessions. The September and October ADP camps were held in a virtual environment and included sessions for personal coaches, inclusivity discussions and 135 fencers connecting online. We also welcomed guest referees to camps to discuss the experiences of an international referee during major competitions.
- Recording weapon-specific demands of fencing webinars for senior athletes and strength and conditioning coaches, available on our On Demand service soon.
- Sharing our whole person, socially conscious and athlete-centred approach to development with Sport England, in partnership with The True Athlete Project.
- Gathering and researching extensive data on our fencers, their metrics and performance standards. We are analysing this data to answer questions about ability and the connections between results and future performance. We will be publishing these findings over the next few months.
- Publishing articles for our GBR fencers about resilience and the process of learning, including ‘When Is It Ok To Get Hit?’
Our younger audiences through:
- Sharing our grassroots ‘have a go’ intitative #ITriedFencing on our On Demand platform. #ITriedFencing is a fun series of videos featuring Ben Peggs, Lucy Johnson and Rob Bruniges. The series introduces young people to fencing through creative challenges and games. Participants can apply for an #ITriedFencing certificate from BF after completing any of the challenges in the series.
- Supporting coaches and wider partners to return to school settings.
- Developing our online resources to support teachers looking to introduce fencing to their school.
Our wider community of fans, followers and future fencers, through:
- Developing our new On Demand service: On Guard, On Demand, Online. You can filter for our On Demand content on our activity finder to view a collection of videos produced by BF, including interviews with athletes, workout challenges, seminars and more.
- Launching our new online core coach course. The course is 75% online and can be taken in stages, including a stand-alone stage 1, suitable for teachers and anyone interested in learning more about coaching fencing.
- Quizzing BBC Radio 2’s OJ Borg, in a fun segment with our CEO Georgina Usher.
- Continuing the stories in ‘My Fencing World’, a series which explores the world of UK fencing as told through the personal stories of people of all ages and abilities in our community. Read more about veteran fencer Mike McKay.
- Sharing some of the best fencing podcasts available, including the BF Podcast: Be You. Be Different.
- Remembering the late Peter Hobson.
If there are areas we haven’t covered that you would like more information on please do let us know by emailing us at [email protected].
On a final note, the team at BF would like to express their gratitude to all our members for their support at this time. Just by being a member you enable and support the work that we do across the community for the benefit of our members and our sport.
We would also like to thank all the volunteers who continue in their many and varied ‘behind the scenes’ roles and recognise the hugely important part they are playing in preparing for our return to fencing.
You can stay up to date with all the updates by subscribing to our weekly news summary The Fencing Digest. Sign up here.