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Lily Whitehead Image: Graeme Orrman

Funding and in-kind support is now rolling out under the AFF Project 5000 grant program, with Melbourne’s Ruyton Girls School receiving a $5000 contribution to establish a school fencing program and club. 

The project is the brainchild of Victorian cadet fencer Lily Whitehead, a student at Ruyton, who is a passionate advocate for women’s fencing. Lily prepared a compelling presentation to earn the support of her school principal and community, leading to a grant bid based on a co-investment model.

With the assistance of the Project 5000 grant, Ruyton plans to introduce fencing in term three 2018 under the guidance of coach Pieter Leeuwenburgh.

Lily says she burst into tears when she heard Ruyton's bid had been successful, as her ambition to fence with a Ruyton school team at the National School Fencing Championships is one step closer to reality.

"I had a dream and thought it probably wouldn't come true soon enough for me, and now it has," Lily says.

She says many girls her age want to play sport but don't always know what to choose.

"I want them to know it's okay to pick up a sword and fence.

"I want to prove it's a sport that has no gender and has no boundaries."

The Ruyton submission detailed how many new fencers would be targeted in the current and future years, with clear pathways for students introduced to fencing at school to becoming affiliated at the state level.

The Adelaide Swords club also benefitted in round one of the Project 5000 grant program, securing 10 sets of plastic learn-to-fence equipment.

The club will use the equipment to start a program for younger children in the eight to 10-year-old age group, a demographic not traditionally catered to by the club.

The AFF will invite applications for the next Project 5000 Grant Program round shortly.