By Gary Lu, President of Absolute Fencing Gear Inc.
We recently had the Grand Opening of the Absolute International Fencing Training Center in Wuxi, China. The opening of this training center represents a significant development in the growth of our sport. It represents an effective Public/Private Partnership and a replicable business model for centers around the world.
This special event was supported by local and regional governments – Mayor and Director of Sports, Academia - Head Master and Deans, the President of Chinese Fencing Association, the President of United States Fencing Association, Olympic Gold Medalist –Li Na and representatives of the Regional Sport Administration and Education Administration.
The Absolute Training Center is a beautiful, state of the art facility with 20 competition strips housed on the campus of an elite Public High School with 2600 students in the City of Wuxi., a city of over 6 million people and a thriving metropolis. It is located next to an indoor track, Olympic size indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a sea of basketball courts.
Absolute Fencing collaborated with the school to build the facility, the Chinese Fencing Federation to make it a regional training and competition center, and the City of Wuxi to launch a private club that serves students and families not associated with the school.
The Schools’ Head Master embraced the concept of developing strong minds supported by sound bodies and will use Fencing to fulfill that mission. Part of the agreement with the school is that all 2600 of its students will have access to fencing and experience the physical and mental benefits that come from the sport.
Wuxi’s Mayor and sports department view the center as a vehicle for increasing health and fitness options for the city’s residents and increasing its ties with the Chinese Fencing Association. And, the Chinese Fencing Association gets a new state of the art training and competition facility in a region that has long been known for producing outstanding fencers.
The Absolute International Training Center is not only an innovative model for establishing effective Public/Private partnerships; it is a Business Model for building a sustainable Fencing Club Business. The Training Center will host a Fencing Club offering membership to residents of the City of Wuxi. The Club will be inclusive and provide programming for students and adults not associated with the school. There will be a membership fee charged for students and families with scholarships available for students economically disadvantaged. There will also be international exchange programs for students from the United States and China. In addition, the Fencing Club will share a percentage of its profits with the school, providing an additional source of income for their programs.
The International Training Center’s Public/Private Partnership’s Innovative business model demonstrates a unique way for establishing relationships with regional governments, National Federations and for profit enterprises to grow and develop the sport of fencing in cites around the world.