Following a transfer of responsibilities from British Disability Fencing, British Fencing’s remit expands to include para fencing (formally wheelchair fencing), an important step in BF’s long-term objective to welcome many more people into fencing and support them in their journey in our sport.
The transfer of responsibilities from British Disability Fencing (BDF) to British Fencing (BF) brings fencers together under one NGB for the first time. Unlike many other para sports, para fencing has previously been governed separately. The process included a survey of both organisations’ members which garnered overwhelming support for uniting the sport.
Georgina Usher, CEO of BF said, “I am delighted to welcome the para fencing community to BF. Over the years I have trained and sparred with para fencers in clubs across the UK. Our club fencing experiences are not separate and, working with our Home Nation Associations, our objective is to create more accessible environments with more opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in our exciting sport, whether as fencers, coaches, officials or volunteers.”
Through its Athlete Development Programme, BF will incorporate para fencing into the Sport England funded Talent stages of the pathway.
Steve Kemp, Head of Pathways at BF said, “This is an exciting opportunity to create hybrid training environments for talent, just like the ones that exist in clubs, where para fencers and fencers can train and spar together as they develop along the pathway to GBR success.”
Phil Smith, Director of Partnerships at Sport England, said, “Sport England are pleased to have supported this change. It’s an inclusive approach from British Fencing but more importantly, it should lead to a better experience for all those taking part in the sport.”
Liv Corbishley, Independent Chair of BDF, joined BDF in April 2021, and has been committed to strengthening the structure and development of the sport, improving opportunities for para fencers. She said, “With BF there was a clear view from the start that they understood and had the expertise to support creating more inclusive environments and develop the landscape and sport for existing and new para fencers. BDF was at a crucial point whereby becoming part of a larger NGB offered a sustainable future within a fit-for-purpose governance structure already in place. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our stakeholders and those who gave time voluntarily to see this outcome become a reality. We are delighted that the sport will be an integrated part of the fencing community and grow as a result.”
Mark Lyttle, Chair of BF, said, “I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Board of BF to welcome BDF members and acknowledge all those volunteers who have worked so hard on behalf of BDF, many of whom will no doubt continue to be involved in supporting the sport as members of BF.”
Sally Munday, CEO at UK Sport, said, “The coming together of British Fencing and British Disability Fencing is really welcome news. Olympic and Paralympic sports are part of one high-performance community in the UK and the uniting of both governing bodies as one is going to be hugely beneficial for everyone involved. We wish British Fencing the very best as it embarks on its exciting next steps and look forward to continuing our great relationship with them.”
Please see the new GBR Para Fencing Zone for information and useful links.
UK Sport currently funds the EIS to deliver the Wheelchair World Class Programme (WCP). Delivery of the WCP falls outside the scope of the responsibilities of BDF and as such is outside the scope of this transition of responsibilities.
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