Originally featured on the British Fencing web-site, 23rd September 2013
Competitive Pricing and Fun Key to Success
Last year, Sway Fencing Club set about growing their membership and opening up a satellite club whilst at the same time delivering fencing sessions to young people who might otherwise not have access to the sport. This is a project that they had been working on in conjunction with New Forest District Council, Sport Hampshire & Isle of Wight, Sported and England Fencing for three years.
Keen to learn from similar expansion projects, Robin Catling spoke to coaches in the North East region about how they had seen some success and devised his plan. He successfully applied for two Sportivate grants and set about delivering fencing in three different locations as well as establishing a Saturday afternoon club at a new venue.
Speaking about the project Robin said; “By keeping our pricing low we not only had a better chance of receiving our grants but also we were able to demonstrate that fencing is not as expensive as people expect. Operating on a tight budget wasn’t easy but we negotiated venue costs which made it possible to introduce fencing to just under one hundred people in the Southern region.”
Retention is always tricky but Sway Fencing Club have shown that with hard work and the support of partners growth is possible. Not only have they increased the exposure of the sport in their region but they have also established a new junior club with regular membership and are already making plans for further growth.
Robin continued; “Keeping the sessions inexpensive and fun has kept our core membership coming back. In particular, having student-led sessions, letting them choose what weapons and what games we run has helped give them a sense of ownership and kept up a sense of fun.”
Clearly these new fencers agree as one of them commented; “I really like the fencing games” whilst another added; “The coach is really nice but still encourages us to work hard and to enter competitions.”
Picture: Sway Fencing Summer Programme, Sabre School