2022 – connections

2022 was a year of connections with the wider fencing community, with members attending comps and courses, MFC hosting members from other clubs at our comps, and NSWFA providing some training and events for regional fencers. We had a busy start to the year, and the year also brought changes, as some of our coaches moved out of the mountains for uni and new employment, and as the ongoing pandemic continued to affect everyone’s lives. This year MFC’s young volunteers really shone and made a massive contribution to the club, taking on more responsibilities and sharing their skills and good vibes! Here are some highlights:

MFC team

We said farewell to our head coach Joe Raciborski, who moved out of the mountains after giving many years of skilled coaching to MFC. We we also said farewell to some of our young coaches as they commenced their university adventures – hopefully they'll drop by and fence a few bouts whenever they're back in the area! We welcomed a new club Quartermaster, taking over from our inaugural Quartermaster, and we appointed six fencers as Training Assistants on the coaching team. Thanks to an Australian Government Volunteer Grant we received last year, three of our coaches were able to undertake training for their national Level 1 coaching qualification, and two of our coaches were able to undertake the Sport NSW Fast Track for Female Coaches program. Imogen was accepted to do Women Leaders in Sport workshops with the AIS, and in December travelled to New Zealand for advanced foil coaching training, having been invited to undertake the Olympic Solidarity Technical Coaching Course, and achieved the Oceania Fencing Confederation level 2 in foil coaching. 


We implemented some ideas to support training this year to ensure that our members receive instruction in all aspects of fencing, including refereeing, how the weapons work, and armoury. We wrote a comprehensive coaching guide to support the coaching team, began an MFC library with a few good books, updated the website with some new resources (including coach Tom's excellent guide), and trialled a syllabus for the year with a QR code-accessed recap of notes and reflective activities for the training topics. We introduced armoury chip-in sessions a few times over the year, to ensure the club's equipment is maintained and to give members training and experience in developing the skills required, and we were fortunate to have the help of one of our senior fencers to do any advanced armoury that was needed. To ensure MFC is connected with current refereeing practice to teach our fencers, Alessandra undertook referee training and assessment with NSWFA to become an accredited level B State referee. To support our fencers to develop the strength and power needed to develop their game, we commissioned accredited exercise physiologist Sarah O'Connor from Move Clinic to create a fencing-specific program to incorporate into training and for fencers to use at home. 


This year we opened our club comp, the Richard Emmerick Shield, to fencers from other clubs. Expanding participation by running larger comps which are open to more fencers was facilitated by scoring equipment we'd been able to buy thanks to an Office of Sport Local Sport Grant we'd been awarded in 2020. Due to stay-at-home orders in 2021, this is the first chance we had to run the events with the equipment, and it made a huge difference to the experience! We ran three rounds of the competition across the year (round 1, 2 and 3) and were pleased to welcome fencers from Maitland Fencing Club and Penrith Fencing Academy who came to participate. We look forward to more collaborations next year! We also worked on connecting our fencers with the wider fencing community by encouraging them to compete at external comps. MFC fencers competed in regional comps with Newcastle Fencing Club, NSWFA states, AFF nationals, and the NSWFA state schools comps – having a great time and achieving quite a swag of medals! Thanks to the efforts of MFC fencers, Katoomba High School was represented in the competition for the first time ever! We also ran our unique MFC comp, The Grex™, for the second year – stay tuned for this year's winning team which will be announced in early 2023!

LGBTQI+ inclusion

MFC is committed to nurturing a welcoming and inclusive club culture. Thanks to funding that AFF received from Sport Australia in partnership with Pride in Sport, MFC collaborated with MYST to run an LGBTQI+ 'come and try fencing' event. The event was great fun and we've since welcomed three fencers from the event as new club members! The event funding is part of a wider inclusivity campaign by Pride in Sport, and following the event, participants from the MFC event were invited to be filmed as part of the social media component of the campaign, and to provide some quotes and photos for printed inclusivity guides. 


MFC runs on the support of our ace team of volunteers, and all our excellent members chipping in to help! This year we received some additional support which enabled us to enhance the club. Thanks to an Office of Sport Local Sport Grant, were were able to buy much needed chest guards, masks and lamés to enable us to maintain safety and expand our training capacity. Thanks to a grant from Katoomba and Upper Blue Mountains Community Bendigo Bank Branch, we were able to buy a club laptop to run the competition software and to train some of our members in using the system, greatly enhancing our competitions and our capacity. We also received support from NSWFA, who hosted a free open day for regional fencers, a free regional fencing training workshop, and a safeguarding webinar and online info session. We welcomed NSWFA president Jing Shang, and vice president Duncan Fairweather, to MFC for a visit in February and are pleased that our SSO is committed to supporting regional fencers.


And so, after a well deserved break, see you on the piste in 2023!

alessandra wollaston