Strategic Forum

Make your contribution to the future of fencing in NSW.

NSWFA Strategic Plan – 2017-2020

Club representatives are invited to attend a Strategic Forum on 3 December to consider the NSWFA Strategic Plan for 2017-2020.

The Strategic Plan will set out objectives for NSW Fencing, how they can best be achieved and finding the resources necessary to turn goals into reality.

The NSWFA Strategic Plan will be compatible with the Strategic Plan adopted by the AFF earlier this year and will focus on how NSWFA can respond to the challenge in the AFF Plan to significantly increase participation.

Submissions are sought from clubs and members with constructive ideas for the development of fencing.

Contributions will be posted to this page.


The submissions and discussion at the Forum will then be taken into account by the Board in drafting the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan which will be published in draft form early in 2018.

Submissions should be addressed to: and be received by 26 November.

The Forum will be held:

11 am Sunday 3 December

NSW Fencing Centre

Level 1, Building 2.04

Sydney Corporate Park

190 Bourke Road

Alexandria NSW 2015


Why do we need a Strategic Plan?

Each National Sports Organisation is required by the Australian Sports Commission to have a Strategic Plan, coinciding with the 4-year Olympic cycle, as a condition of funding.

In May 2017, the Australian Fencing Federation adopted the AFF’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020: click here

At the State level, NSW Fencing is also required by the Office of Sport to have a Strategic Plan. The NSWFA Strategic Plan for the period 2013-2017: click here

The NSWFA Constitution has provision for NSWFA to hold an annual Strategic Forum. The purpose of the Strategic Forum is to provide an opportunity for board members, club representatives and members to consider the future direction of NSW Fencing.

The discussions at the Strategic Forum on 3 December 2017 will assist the Board in developing the NSWFA 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.


High level objectives

The AFF Strategic Plan sets four strategic imperatives:

  1. Increase participation
  2. Improve elite performance
  3. Raise profile
  4. Act professionally
  5. Be positive

These objectives are similar to those set in the 2013-2017 NSWFA Strategic Plan:

  1. Increase participation
  2. Enhance performance
  3. Strengthen finances
  4. Effective organisation
  5. Promote fencing

For consistency, it is intended that the NSWFA Strategic Plan will follow the AFF strategic imperatives.


Strategic Imperative 1 – Increase Participation

The first and most ambitious AFF objective is the national participation target of 20,000 by 2020. Participation is defined in the AFF Plan as:

Key strategic objectives:

  1. Significantly increase the number of people participating in a ‘fencing experience’
  2. Materially increase the conversion of fencing participants to active members
  3. Measuring success (targets to be achieved by 2020):

 • Programs delivered to over 20,000 participants annually (in 2020)

• Over 5,000 active members (in 2020)

These targets are ambitious and set a huge challenge for NSWFA. On the basis of NSW’s share of the Australian population (32%), NSW’s share of the national fencing participation target is 6,400.

Of the AFF’s target of 5,000 active members by 2020, the NSW share is 1,600. This means doubling our present registered membership of about 850.

Actual participation in NSW is higher than the number of registered fencers as there are many fencers participating in clubs and schools who are not registered members of the association. Capturing these numbers is an important first step.

Apart from converting ‘participant fencers’ into ‘active fencers’ the longer term objective is to substantially increase the number of fencers of all ages taking up fencing on a regular basis either as participants in clubs and schools or as competitive fencers.

The traditional sources of new fencers in NSW are clubs and schools.


Developing Club Fencing

Fencing clubs in NSW are independent entities responsible for their own operations. NSWFA offers affiliated status to clubs, the main benefits of which are access to insurance and a listing on the NSWFA website.

What else can and should NSWFA be doing to strengthen the existing network of clubs in NSW and foster the creation of new clubs?

What are the capacity constraints on clubs?  For example, access to venues, availability of coaches, supply of equipment, limited finance.

What can clubs do to increase the profile of fencing at a grass-roots level?

Is there potential for clubs to work with local schools to facilitate the take-up of fencing?


Developing Schools Fencing

NSWFA is working with fencing schools to re-engineer the Schools Fencing Program from 2018 to offer more opportunities to fence within a practical schedule for school fencers and their parents.

While these changes will encourage greater participation by schools who have a fencing program and also by student fencers from non-fencing schools, the wider challenge is to introduce fencing to more schools.

As a first step, NSWFA is encouraging schools that used to offer fencing as a regular school sport to take it up again. The next step is to identify schools that may be interested in adopting fencing as a school sport. The primary target is schools that have organised sports programs and a capacity and willingness to participate in weekend sport.

What are the key constraints on expanding school fencing? For example, the availability of coaches, engagement of teachers, provision of equipment, the cost of participation?

How can these issues be resolved?

Finding new markets for fencing

Apart from growing participation levels through clubs and schools, what other opportunities exist to introduce more people – young and old – to fencing and encourage them to take it up as a regular activity?

Adult beginners – is there a market for adults who may wish to take up fencing to improve fitness, try a new sport or just as a social activity? How can we access these people? What programs should we offer them?

Corporate – what products can we offer the corporate market, e.g. team building events, after-work training programs, a city fencing league?

Retired fencers – how can we encourage fencers who have retired from the sport for career, family or other reasons to come back to fencing.

Fitness market – noting the popularity of personal wellness and fitness programs (e.g. boot camps) how we can we tap into this market?

Partners – is there scope for co-operation with other sports organisations and providers, e.g. gyms, on joint programs and cross-marketing?

What other initiatives should be tried?

How are we going to resource these efforts?


Financial considerations

NSWFA is a not-for-profit organisation but should always aim to achieve a surplus each year and build reserves to fund future development. This approach enabled the Association to establish the NSW Fencing Centre as a dedicated venue for training and competitions.

The Board must balance the need to generate sufficient revenue to maintain operations while keeping costs to members as low as possible.

The main driver of revenue is participation via member registration, competition entry fees, training fees and other services.

Increased participation will lead to increased revenue and larger surpluses provided the income generated by new activities more than covers their cost.


Strategic Priority 2 – Improve elite performance

Improving elite performance is important as success at the international level improves official and public recognition of our sport and leads to more funding. Medals = money.

Less tangible but arguably of at least equal importance, elite fencers set a standard to which other fencers can aspire.

NSWFA has always supported the AFF High Performance Program which is complemented at the State level by the NSW Squad Training Program. Members of the Australian Fencing Team and the Australian Fencing Squad must attend regular State squad training.

Squad training led by the Head Coach and his coaching team at the NSW Fencing Centre, combined with the efforts of coaches in clubs and schools, have produced a strong cohort of competitive fencers. In recent years, NSW has consistently won national championship points trophies.

This broad measure of success at the national level is satisfying but it does not mean NSWFA can afford to be complacent.

NSW fencers are increasingly competing in international events at Asian and World level and achieving some success.

NSW fencers are also participating in the AFF’s Coach Designated Tours and in tours organised by NSWFA for our younger fencers.

An emphasis on high performance should continue to be a priority in the new Strategic Plan.

Ideally, NSWFA should be providing financial support to our fencers who are selected for the AFT/AFS and representing Australia in international events. While this will not be possible without significantly more revenue, it may be included as an objective in the Strategic Plan.

Strategic Priority 3 – Raise profile

Fencing is a relatively small ‘niche sport’ with a relatively small member base, limited financial resources and minimal media coverage. This creates a challenge in promoting fencing to the wider community. However, with the emergence of low or no cost online marketing opportunities and the proliferation of social media there is now greater potential to spread the message and attract a wider interest in fencing.

We are keen to hear from members on their ideas on how to promote fencing and particularly from those who want to be engaged actively in this effort.

Strategic Priority 4 – Act Professionally

NSWFA is still essentially a volunteer-run organisation. While ever this is the case there will be limits on what we can practically achieve given the pressures on volunteers in terms of their time and commitment. As a volunteer organisation we are reliant on the co-operation and goodwill of our members. We have no power to direct them to do anything. However, we should strive at all times to manage the Association in a professional way in accordance with the requirements of the law, our Constitution and policies.

One outcome of the new Strategic Plan will be the review and updating of our policies and procedures. This will include setting up a Judiciary Committee, updating the Code of Conduct and a range of policies including Working With Children, Privacy, Member Protection, Board protocols, Safety and Equipment Standards.

This work will be undertaken in the context of a push by the NSW Office of Sport to encourage sporting bodies to review and upgrade their governance policies and procedures to meet contemporary standards. We are working actively with the Office of Sport on this project.


Strategic Priority 5 – Be Positive

While there may always be differences of view on the best way ahead, our progress will always be limited if we don’t all agree first on what our goals should be and share a commitment in principle and to a fair degree in practice on how they can be achieved.

That’s the desired outcome from the Strategic Forum.

The Forum is an opportunity to recognise the progress NSW Fencing has made over the past decade, acknowledge where we could have done better, identify the opportunities that lie ahead and devise practical pathways to achieving our goals.

We look forward to your contribution.