About 7 years ago I was invited to run a fencing club at a primary school in Wales, Rotherham. They wanted children from years 3-6 (age 7 to 10 ish) to learn to fencing. The objective was to improve fitness and co-ordination but also to give the children an experience which was outside their normal ‘ex-mining village’ world. I’d have a helper, up to 20 children and an hour each week for the lesson. I was really keen to help but realised that 1 hour would be a very short period in which to run the session for this age group. I was aware of the GO/FENCE system (Midi-Fence as it was called then) and decided it was the ‘game changer’ needed to make this type of session practical. The children would have just the same fun, learn the same skills but spend less time getting into the required safety gear. The sessions were a great success and ran for many years until the club moved to Kiveton Park & Wales Village Hall where it became a fully fledged club using metal and plastic weapons depending on circumstances.
A couple of years ago British Fencing were aware of the success I’d been having with this new form of fencing with both children and adults. They were designing a ‘soft form of the sport’ for role out into schools where trained volunteers would then deliver the sessions. I was happy to be invited to give suggestions for inclusion in the training programme for these volunteers. I was subsequently registered as a British Fencing GO/FENCE instructor authorised to deliver the training to the would be GO/FENCE coaches. I was so happy because I’d found another way to spread the word about this great sport to more people and thereby increase the pool of potential competitive fencers in the next generation.
The requirement to deliver these training sessions was at first only a modest trickle but in the last couple of months demand has taken off and I’ve now trained over 40 GO/FENCE coaches. Few of these people have ever fenced before but it has been very satisfying to see how much effort they have all put into gaining the necessary skills and being comfortable delivering sessions themselves. The feedback to British Fencing has been excellent and I hope they all get the opportunity to run regular GO/FENCE courses/clubs in the coming years and further increase the numbers of fencers in their communities.
If you would like a school or cluster of schools or other organisation to be able to deliver GO/FENCE sessions in your community please put them in touch with British Fencing’s GO/FENCE Co-Ordinator Jack Boteler.