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Talking to…

06 Mar 2020

The newest selection pigeon fanciers, no, not the real youngsters from 8-9-10-…years old, no, the new real pigeon fanciers, those who made the step from ‘child-racing’ to the ‘grown-up racing’, those who survived puberty, in short the new generation pigeon fanciers that grew up differently than the former generations pigeon fanciers….

Pertinent questions like : what makes that they didn’t drop out yet? How do they experience pigeon sport? How do they look at the future of pigeon racing? Do they also have an opinion about the ‘game’, the championships, the rules? And are they being heard? These are the questions I wanted to ask. With immediately the idea to bring in our National President KBDB Pascal Bodegien who confirmed immediately on my proposition. He was especially present to listen and to answer some of the questions that the youthful fanciers would have for him. Underneath the story about our afternoon around the table, things to think about is something they gave us, some interesting ideas as well. 

Short intro

Off course, it is important to know who you are talking to, I choose very consciously some real hobby fanciers, once that aren’t in for a bit but for the rest of their days. Before we sat together I asked all of them 5 pretty general questions to get to know them and their situation a bit better. You can find the answers to these questions below the report.. 

Pigeon fancier n°1 : Ines Stessens – 26 year – Place: Retie

Pigeon fancier n°2 : Thomas Verhagen – 30 year – Place : Ravels

Pigeon fancier n°3 : Jolien Cools – 24 year – Place : Loenhout 

Pigeon fancier n°4 : Kurt Michielsen – 25 year – Place : Wuustwezel

And last but not least our National President Pascal Bodegien – 57 year – Place: Stelen (Geel) was also present, I didn’t ask him to give answer to the 5 questions although I should have asked them 😉

In a very small nutshell, and now we were ready for the ‘real’ questions. 

What makes that you race pigeons?

Jolien who doesn’t come out of a pigeon family but has been affected by her boyfriend Kurt (where she already forms a couple with since 11 years) has just been bitten by the virus. She just likes to do it and especially as she can do it together with her boyfriend as she realizes when one of the two doesn’t like pigeons it is very hard as a young couple to hand on to as pigeons need attention day in day out. Tessa (Thomas’s wife) confirms this, at the beginning of their relationship, when they didn’t go out for a long time yet, it was difficult to hang in as Thomas found his pigeons more important than her and which girl/wife likes that? In the meantime they have been living together for about 3 years and helps out on the loft. Thomas had his ‘slow’ period in pigeon sport himself as around his puberty he preferred football or going out with his mates, but as his grandfather became sick he started to keep busy with pigeons more again and it stayed like this. They all had other hobbies but pigeon sport is just not combinable with other hobbies and with all of them the love for pigeons was so big that it was obvious that they choose these. It is very hard to explain to peers, especially as pigeon sport and what it stands for not really known is. It is a fact that since ‘Armando’ they are being addressed about it more often and other peers show more interest for the pigeons. They don’t really like the way pigeon sports comes in to the media, just as it is only about money. This is only so for a few, surely not for them. The question whether pigeon sport is too expensive they answer the same: it is just as expensive as you make it. So surely no reason not to start or to quit pigeon sport. As young fancier you get some pigeons and eggs from other fanciers easily to start off with  and what pigeon lofts are concerned, you can find loads second had lofts. and . Food and care is something they say about that it costs what you make it, if you don’t keep too much pigeons it isn’t that expensive. Other sports that they practised were much more expensive in total. Ines used to play volleyball, Kurt was a cyclist, Thomas played soccer, …the membership fees were always many times higher. According to Thomas, the membership fee can be augmented, only on condition that they use this money to support the youth. They all are willing to pay more for this .
I also want to add a small anecdote from Thomas (one of his many anecdotes): as a child he only wanted to go to the toilet when he could hold a pigeon basket otherwise he just refused, his parents tried many things but only the pigeons took care of his growth into maturity, just to point out how deep pigeons can be rooted in one.  
It is also a true passion, difficult to explain how it feels when you see your own pigeons coming home on Saturday and Sunday from a race. When you can convince your friends to come over to watch they also think it is amazing to see how they get down as small bullets and get into the loft, pure excitement, pure fun, a real kick after all the efforts made during the week. Nevertheless, it says really difficult to explain the entire system. Once they know the system, it is possible to discuss pigeon sport and to encourage the interest in the sport. Pascal confirms as he also thinks it is really important to get the word out and talk about pigeon sport as much as possible via several different platforms. With one big note: keep it sporty, keep it constructive, put pigeon sport in the spotlight only in a positive way, this is oh so important!
It is also a fact that as a 15-year old to 20-year old, you just can’t get around without the help of a grown up fancier. Also the involvement in the club is for all of them very important, they all help out in their club and also really like to do that. It is a bit sad that they don’t get really a say in all off it, they are good enough help out but new ideas or questions why this, why that are being wiped of the table really quick. 

The game

In first instance they nod lightly yes when the question rises whether they are satisfied how it goes at this moment within their own discipline but when the questions go a bit deeper the opinions rise, again an example that this generation isn’t used to of being heard, really heard. Most of them race short distance races, just because of the fact that it is easier and takes on the least of their time. Ines did make the step towards the long distance but admits that this isn’t easy. The short distance game is a very regional game, is what Thomas adds. In his region there are f.e. less problems than in the region of Kurt and Jolien, just because of the fact that in his region there are still many fanciers who race the short distance races. In the region of Kurt and Jolien you can find many small clubs, where the drivers has to pick up 2 baskets and then continue to pick up 4 more and so on…they plead to have only 1 short distance race instead of 2.  Pascal Bodegien hasn’t heard about this local propositions and decisions, he can’t do anything about it on a national level either, but points out that he is really against this. And I think he isn’t the only one. He prefers to, in a matter of speaking, close smaller clubs than to take out a distance. His dream is also to make within his own region one big club in Westerlo where everybody has to basket from short distance to the extreme long distance (everybody from around Geel, Bergom, Winkelomheid, Zittaart, ….) so they have to in a matter of speaking wait at the other end of the street to basket. This also to give pigeon sport more cachet, when people see this they ask ‘what is going one there?’ Well, they are basketing pigeons for the races of the upcoming weekend. That is publicity. The time of clubs where they basket 50 to 100 pigeons is coming to an end. This has off course his consequences as more then probably people will quit as it’ll be too far to drive. And off course, closing a club? ‘ Finished is finished and it will never come back. When you have bigger clubs there also will be more social control and this is necessary. I’m very strict what fraud and narcotics is concerned. So this is also to avoid fraud, his experience is that very small clubs where you only have 3 or 5 fanciers have more possibilities to fraud. Pascal wants to keep for this reason the club in Lanaken closed for all times (this is the club that due to fraud at basketing of Limoges in 2019 was being closed and the concerned fancier was being suspended), he will never allow in any way to open this club again as there is the suspicion that more than one fancier was involved. It also has to stand as an example, people talk more about it, have become more careful and see that action is made when something happens. He is very clear about this and will keep on taking firm action against this. For Thomas this all is a bit different as in his region is still a lot of action when basketing pigeons and you have to stay in line when basketing on weekend races once in a while and after basketing they are already talking about who is going to enter next time? And can we maybe drive together? Very nice off course, but really region bounded so it is necessary to look at it region by region. But a solution for everything, we only have to want to find and see the solution. 

Has the possibility to be there to give pigeon as port on a race or not? The sound that I hear is clearly no as during the weekends there are races and when there are races no pigeons without signing in. They do understand that a lot of long distance racers do this just to train their pigeons but it doesn’t rule out that they don’t have to sign in their pigeons. It also happens sometimes that when a pigeon fancier doesn’t clock his pigeons well he doesn’t bring in his clock or just let it print out without putting it on the list and then ask to put it on the coming week or so when nobody looks at the results of that weekend anymore. Pascal immediately points out that this is a rule, you are obliged to bring in your clock and it just can’t be that when a fancier has a bad result he likes to take his result out. Pascal also states that it is the responsibility of the chairman of the club and can be held responsible as well for this and therefor has to think twice before he allows this. As the chairman of a club is being caught doing this, it is just over and out for this guy. Another painful item that happens on a regular base but that now one likes to talk about who and when but there are fanciers that come before basketing to the club to get baskets to put his/her own pigeons in one basket and then come very late to basket so their basket can be placed on the truck as last with all their pigeons in one basket. Take out the pigeons without signing in and this can’t happen anymore. Pascal really get goose bumps from this ‘rules are rules and are there for everyone’. Our young fanciers agree fully but they just don’t dare to open up their mouth and leave it be. They don’t mind at all to have a bad result once, this is normal, no, one week isn’t the other week and everybody lives sometimes in the ‘bad’ region or doesn’t have the wind direction their own loft. And to get back to the pigeons without signing in, they state that there are enough training races during the week, Ines is the only long distance racer of the group and always signs in her pigeons and will never give her pigeons just like that. Also Kurt thinks that this isn’t a fair system as you can give your pigeons to a short distance race without signing in but not on middle distance race, which isn’t fair. The proposal to have the possibility to give only youngsters for training purposes and not the old ones is also something they really don’t like. They give the example of someone who signed in 3 pigeons and put a lot of money on these 3 but basketed in total 20 pigeons…which makes it a false competition. 
The points system that they hold in Holland isn’t something they like either, it isn’t about the points. There isn’t anything more beautiful than being able to get their first signed pigeon in first and win championships with this which isn’t that important in Holland due to the points. 

Limiting pigeons per fancier at basketing or limiting the amount of prize per fanciers isn’t something that is being cheered on either. They like to race against the ‘big’ lofts, really funny when you get in on top with a few pigeons of your own against them.
We also get to the discussion that sometimes short distance racers have to speak for the long distance races and the other way around. Pascal doesn’t like that one can interfere in another game and this with the words : ‘Let cobbler stick to his last’. And this should be the case for all decisions that are being made on a local, provincial and national level. 
Releases, they suggest over here to go back to system as it was around the years 200 namely with alternating releasing spots. Pascal also liked the system but says that is getting harder and harder to release pigeons in France, in the old days you could in a matter of speaking stand on any parking lot to release the pigeons but times have changed and there are very few places left where you can release.
Thomas also fears change a bit as the past taught him that things that are taken out never come back even it is only for a test. Pascal answers that these are things that can’t happen anymore and if decisions are made and notice that the old way is better that is surely has to come back. 

Another thing that they don’t think is fair is that there is a certain region where they can choose to enter Quièvrain/Noyon (on Sundays) or Momignies/Soissons (on Saturdays). These fanciers have without a doubt more advantage as other as when the weather is bad on Saturday they can give their pigeons to a race on Sunday or the other way around. This just shouldn’t be possible, they should make a choice at the beginning of the season. Also the choice of club, which is often dependable on the direction of the wind. There are many fanciers that don’t have this choice so they also consider this as game forgery. Pascal himself is thinking about to remove the provincial borders sportive to get to a more honest game. 
One thing they all like about the game in Belgium is that they can choose their discipline and races. You can choose what you want to race and when and this isn’t the case everywhere like for example in Germany. They also like that there won’t be a difference anymore between old and year birds and that everything has to be on one results list except for Thomas, he doesn’t like this too much nevertheless he has to admit that this is something they will have to do in the near future. At Jolien’s club they already decided to put both the old and year birds on one results list. 

The youth clubs and the managements. 

The current way of working of the youth clubs isn’t something that is a real asset for them. It is a nice club to have and to organize things amongst each other but when it is really about the sport itself there is a lot that is missing here. Like for example the common problem that there are people that race under the name of their children to get prizes from the youth department while the concerning kid hardly has anything to do with pigeons. But they will show of with their youth cup. Pascal also took on initiatives and invited youth clubs to the headquarters of the KBDB in Halle, he even ordered pizza’s to welcome them but was surprised to see who showed up, he expected people as the once he was sitting around this table with and even younger but the average age of the people was 70!? Nothing personal against these people to be clear but where is the youth where I was waiting for’. Jolien is in favour of a closer cooperation of with the adult managements, still a separate club but also a youth member that can be elected on a provincial and national level and this only by a youth member itself. So youth members would get 2 votes, one for the youth member and one for the regular management. So that there always will be in the provincial and national managements a youth member present that can add his/her feedback and proposals but also to give feedback to the followers. Ines confirms that she would find it easier to give her opinion to someone like for example Thomas then to a full member of the management who could give on questions and thoughts during meetings. . 

On a national level within the KBDB they already decided that the 1st youth winner of a national race will be the youth winner of that race and will be awarded in that way during the national days. Very nice, is also what Kurt thinks, but what about the middle distance and short distance? ‘Kurt, Rome wasn’t built in one day’. Pascal will think about this and asks also that if they would have an idea they should send it on to him. One way of thinking would already be that a youth fancier can point out one pigeon and could become National Youth Champion Short distance with the best 4 prizes of this pigeon on the short distance. The idea of a godfather/godmother is also something that they want to have worked out better. Some one that guides new youth members in every possible way, even where you can buy food, when to give it. Advice while breeding, training, …It already happens now but they notice that when they start to race better that the help fades out. So maybe some one of the same age would be even better. Especially with the very old generation, which are mainly short distance racers, there is no advice to find. They are good enough to help out at the club but otherwise they are being ‘chased’ away, not a lot anymore now but they experienced this as a kid. Ines really pleads for change but isn’t being heard nevertheless she admits that she is a rather quiet person and likes to keep her opinion to herself. 
Or as Jolien states: ‘When I say something during a meeting or give a remark, I always get an answer like ‘it has always been this way so were not going to change this’ without any further explanation. ‘And I just give up and make my notes in silence…’

Discussing about changes that have to made the remark comes that they don’t think it is normal that you have to pay your admission fee half of November and automatically agree by doing this with all the plans of the coming season while nothing is being fixed at that time ever. How come Pascal? He knows that there is a problem here but as he has only be in the position of national president since a year now (which he surely doesn’t use as an excuse) he didn’t have the time to look at it thorough. He sees that the people at HQ in Halle are always very busy with a lot of things…Listening to his story I’m asking myself whether they work structured enough? Do they have the necessary means to run a business in Halle? Is there need of administrative simplification? A lot of things already changed with the new management, their first care was/is to make the KBDB financially healthy and they seem to succeed in that by taking a few important decisions like for example the change of Wprol to Bricon where they safe no less than 100,000€ on a yearly base or stopping the money stream that floats towards the FCI without something is coming back from them….They are busy doing so many things on this moment and everything is important and has priority but as mentioned above ‘Rome isn’t built on one day’. Pascal hopes that he will get time enough together with his team to be able to structure everything. They are also working on the national racing calendar, they want to freeze the national calendar for 5 years so this is clear for everybody, they can negotiate better with the transport managers this way, get license at the releasing spots and so on…and not that with a change of management everything can get put backwards again out of self-interest. He thinks that it would also be a good idea to have a real CEO who takes of the day-to-day business at HQ. Why not? The KBDB is a real company and a company has to be led by a CEO. Around this table they also feel that things are changing and can only be happy about this. 

Question round

As I noticed that one is a bit more quiet as the other I would like to give the word separately to them to be able to mention their thoughts. Let’s start off with Ines. She wonders why she can’t basket at the same club for the middle distance anymore. She moved 5km and can basket for the short distance races and long distance races in Oud-Turnhout but not for the middle distance races. Pascal answers that these are local decisions that are made more then once, but which they can’t handle or interfere with from a national level unless the rules change. Maybe time to have a look at these rules and make chances here and there? The conversation turns to the championships, it just can’t be that they have 16 doubles in Wallonie (where Pascal corrects immediately that it are 18 in the meantime) that count for national championships, no wonder that this many Wallon fanciers are up while there are obviously less fanciers on that side of the border. Things that need to change and that need to be made more honest! What the way of working of her club (Long Distance club Oud-Turnhout) is concerned, is Ines more than happy, she realizes that she is part of a good working club with a lot of enthusiastic helpers, which isn’t the case at all everywhere. 

Kurt hasn’t got any problems with his club either, more with the way of working of the surrounding clubs who say how it all has to be. He thinks that the presidents of the combines need to have more say in the decisions and especially on the short distance races. Also here the basketing story, he is strongly of opinion that it just isn’t possible that you can basket wherever you want. It is all about the pigeon, everybody has a weekend that the wind isn’t in your direction or that your loft isn’t at the right spot. He says that when you have a look over the entire season everybody has about the same chances. He also acknowledges that he hears much more from the KBDB and the changes and feel much more heard which gives a positive wind (from any direction 😉) and this makes him enthusiastic. Jolien tells a story while asking around about one day she went to Brasschaat to basket for a Wednesday race. There was a fancier that basketed 100 pigeons and took 80 prizes on that race, well, the upcoming week this fancier couldn’t come to Brasschaat anymore to basket. This is something she really doesn’t understand. Why not? You should be happy to have this much pigeons on your race as organizer and when you can get 2 prizes with your 4 pigeons in between the 80 prizes of this fancier she is more than proud. She realizes that pigeons are herd animals and that there are disadvantages of the mass basketing but gives the advice : why not? Just don’t overdo it. You see, this generation of pigeon fanciers are much more tolerant against each other than many older generations, without off course putting everybody under one umbrella.

Due to lack of time, Thomas wasn’t heard anymore during this round but I can assure you that he surely said what he needed to say throughout the entire interview. It is also a real pity that we needed to stop after 2 hours as we weren’t ready at all. I sincerely hope that these discussions can be continued in the clubs and managements. 

Conclusion

I choose 4 people out of ‘my region’, people that I already knew. As I can already hear the comments on this :’Why people out of Antwerp? The president really puts this province on top of his list, no? So, nothing like this at all ! I am convinced that I can find around Belgium many like minded people, young pigeon fanciers, motivated, engaged, full of courage and with an opinion and with already some experience. Let us hear more, let them have more of a say, don’t swipe their ideas of the table and especially not with the words ‘it always has been like this’. The world turns around fast, faster as ever before, that’s why also need for change. Don’t put it on the long haul, take on action, think about the ‘general good’ of our pigeon sport, don’t let it bleed to death due to jealousy, stubbornness, self-interest…

Humble and respectful I would like to thank these 4 and their peers for their input and persistence and like to wish them all the best within pigeon sport, they can always count on my support and I hope this is the case for all. A last advice I want to give to the youth : ‘Co-administer ! Take decisions ! Step up !’ 

Off course my sincere thanks to our National President Pascal Bodegien that again gave 2 hours of his time selflessly to be there and to give advice and support. I personally still can’t help the fact that he was 87 days at HQ in 2019 (while he also still has a full time job) only for us, because this is it, he does this for all us pigeon fanciers, don’t forget that. Would any of us do that? Chapeau Monsieur le Président, doing a good job there !

Liesbeth

Pigeon fancier n°1 : Ines Stessens – 26 years – Place : Retie

Place : I moved on my own last year in Retie, but the racing pigeons are still in Arendonk at the address of my parents. In November I build a breeding loft in Retie so the youngsters are being bred at my place and move to Arendonk, to their racing loft. 

1. Since how long are you a pigeon fancier / who introduced you to the sport? 

Pigeon sport is in our family so I got it from childhood. As a little girl I went on to the loft often with my father. Also my grandfather had pigeons, but I never knew him unfortunately. The interest grew year after year and in 2009 I got my own little loft from my father. He bred a few youngsters and from a friend fancier out of our village I also got some youngsters to be trained at the August fair ( a local happening). In 3 days it went from Heist-o/d-Berg to Vilvoorde to Quièvrain. When my parents noticed that this wasn’t a whim of a year I got my own loft in 2011 where I still race on. 

2. How long have you been racing now in tandem or on your own?  

As mentioned above I have been racing on my own since 2009. During school weeks my father took care of my pigeons in the morning. When I got home from school and during school holidays it was my turn. I moved to Retie on my own in 2019 and I have my breeding loft here since November. The youngsters bred here move to my racing loft in Arendonk. In Wintertime I only go to the racing loft during the weekends as it is already dark when I get home from work. I work fulltime and am out from 7.30 in the morning until 5 o’clock in the evening. Luckily I can count on the help of my father for the care of my racing team. I take care of the breeders myself before I go off to work in the morning and at the evening.  From the moment that it stays light outside a bit longer, I drive on a daily base to Arendonk to get my team trained. Both hens as cocks only come out in the evening. What the youngsters are concerned, also there I can count on the help of my father who lets them out during the day. 

3. Which discipline (which distances and cocks/hens/old/youngsters are all) do you race and why? 

I started off with short distance races (especially Quièvrain). For about 2 to 3 years I only raced this but from the moment I got my own loft I wanted to test out my pigeons on the longer distances. The short distance game is a real beautiful one, but it is over too soon for me. My interest started to shift toward the greater middle distance. I got more long distance blood on my loft with pigeons from Louis Meulemans and Bart & Nance Van Oeckel and my two best short distance pigeons where put on the breeding loft. The others had to go the national races. Out of a couple that is pure short distance I bred a hen (6110989/14) that won in 2016 the 3rd National Zone on Chateauroux against 2,030b and the 44th National Zone on Argenton against 3,188b.
From the season of 2017 I decided to put more focus on the greater middle distance. Out of that same couple I again bred a pigeon that raced really well with a 3rd Provincial Vierzon against 2,823b in 2018 and a 8th Provincial Blois against 463b in 2019. This hen is still on the racing team of 2020.

Until last year I raced total widowhood. Both hens as cocks went to a national or a provincial race. As I noticed that the motivation wasn’t good all the time when the pigeons got home without a partner waiting, I’ll try do to it differently in 2020. I don’t know yet how to but I’m thinking about to start off with the hens where the partners stay home. These cocks will have to race the 2nd part of the season. The goal with the young birds is to have the 1st and 2nd round on 2 national races. The youngsters of the 3rd round will have to do a few Noyon races or maybe a middle distance race. 

4. How many pigeons do you have? 

Breeders
At this instant there are 47 breeders on my breedingloft in Retie. The breeding loft exists out of 6 departments for 6 couples but they aren’t all in use at the moment. At the moment there are 32 couples on the loft and another 15 couples in boxes. The 32 couples can choose their own partner. The 15 couples in the boxes are being placed together based on results and pedigree. After the season last year I made a selection within the breeding couples and I will do that again after the season of 2020. Goal is to have about 30 breeding couples.

Old/year birds
The racing team 2020 exists out of :  

- 19 hens (10 old and 9 year birds) 
- 21 cocks (6 old and 15 year birds) 

All young pigeons that were still on the loft after the season of 2019 (21) can all stay as the losses were big. I don’t really know what to expect of the year birds as only 6 of them had a provincial and national race. The rest of the youngsters were only trained until Quièvrain as these weren’t darkened and got faster out of feathers

Youngsters

In 2020 I will breed 150 youngsters in 3 rounds. The 1st and 2nd will be each around 60 pigeons and the 3rd round about 30. The breeders were coupled half of December and the couples will raise 2 rounds. Then 15 couples will be recoupled for the 3rd round. These normally won’t do a national race anymore but I hope that I can let them race a middle distance race by the end of the season. 

5. Are you involved in a club? If yes, what do you do and where? If no, would you like to or why not? 

I’m involved in the way of working in 2 clubs where I make the results. Both in Arendonk (short distance club) as in Oud-Turnhout (long distance club) I take care of some administrative tasks. During the famous ‘Nacht van de Turnhoutse Fondvrienden’ (Celebration of the Champions in Oud-Turnhout) I also help out with the sale. Luckily we have a lot of helpers in our club that volunteer with about everything. During the racing season you can find me 6 days out of the 7 in the club. Or I am basketing myself of I am helping out. These are really busy times. Having a full time job, taking care of your own pigeons and helping out at the club. I am very lucky that I can count on the help of a few people so the combination work-pigeons stays pleasant. The most important thing to this hobby is being able to enjoy your own pigeons. 

Pigeon fancier n°2 : Thomas Verhagen – 30 years – Place : Ravels

1. Since how long are you a pigeon fancier / who introduced you to the sport? 

I filled out my first list end of 2005 to start racing on my own in 2006. I got in contact with pigeons thanks to my grandfather. My parents got divorced in 1995 and my mother had to work a lot so I spent most of my time at my grandparents’ place. So I got to spend a lot of time on the loft, went along to toss the pigeons, to the club, searched for names on the results list, keep on track of the pigeon administration…When my grandfather got sick in 2005 so I started to take care much more of the pigeons together with my mother and this is how it started for me in 2006. 

2. How long have you been racing now in tandem or on your own?  

Since 2006 together with my grandfather but on my name. The pigeon lofts have been always in my mothers’ garden (my grandparents only lived one street away). My grandfather took care that pigeons could go out for a training and cleaned the lofts when I had to go to school. Also tossing the pigeons, getting pigeon food, administration…were my jobs. My grandfather passed away in 2013 and I did it all on my own for a few years. I build a new loft in 2018 on the place I live now. 2018 became a year of transition where I also got a lot of help of my girlfriend Tessa. In the season of 2019 my good friend Ivo Heyns decided to come over to release the youngsters each day. This because I couldn’t do it myself due to my work. I leave everyday around 7.15 and get home around 17.30. 

3. Which discipline (which distances and cocks/hens/old/youngsters are all) do you race and why? 

I race short distance races Quievrain + Noyon with once in a while a short middle distance race with a few youngsters and some nationals (read 2 or 3 youngsters). During the weekend I race widow cocks. I also have a few older hens that I race on a nest position between the youngsters, these also have to race in the weekend but also on the midweek races. Every discipline is really nice and everybody needs to have respect for each discipline. Meaning that everybody needs to make an effort what another discipline is concerned to support it and respect it. Example of this that you shouldn’t allow not signed in pigeons on any race. At the weekend you race pigeons, you don’t train them, even if it is a short distance race, giving them along is clocking them and bringing in the clock. We want to bring live in pigeon sport again. How do we do this? Not by being jealous because a long distance fancier can’t get a price on a shorter distance. When everybody have to basket their pigeons and bring in their clock you will have more friendship again between the fanciers as they have to get in touch with each other this way. 

4. How many pigeons do you have? 

- Breeders: 25 couples (normally 15 couples but due to moving and a few hiccups I know have a few couples more. This will be 15 couples again within a matter of a few years. ) 

- Old/Year birds: 15 widow cocks and 5 hens on nest

- Youngsters: +- 50 youngsters out of the breeders. 2nd round out of the breeders and widow cocks, these are for vouchers and to help out some fanciers that are having trouble breeding or to give to young fanciers.

5. Are you involved in a club? If yes, what do you do and where? If no, would you like to or why not? 

I help out at 2 clubs at this moment, in combination with a full time job and racing pigeons on my own, more isn’t possible. 

* Recht Voor Allen – Ravels:

I am within the management and responsible for everything to do with IT. I am also co-responsible for the coupling of the pigeon rings and administration. 

* KBDB – Youth club Antwerp

In this club we try to help young and starting fanciers. When they have questions about racing, caring, feeding and so on, we will try to help them out as much as possible. We also try to help them by giving them good contacts like for example which vet to go but also by helping them out sending in national or provincial results for the championships. 

Pigeon fancier n°3 : Jolien Cools – 24 year – Place : Loenhout 

1. Since how long are you a pigeon fancier / who introduced you to the sport? 

End of 2011 our loft was placed and I bred and raced my first pigeons in 2012. I got in contact with pigeons via my friend Kurt Michielsen who already was a pigeon fancier. Thanks to him I started racing on my own at home and infected on my turn my own father, Hugo Cools, who is a pigeon fancier himself by now. After I spend a weekend at Kurt’s place and helped out the entire weekend taking care of the pigeons. When I got home I said ‘I also want that’. First I had to take care of a couple of pigeons somewhere at the back before I got a ‘real’ loft. When my parents saw that this wasn’t a whim I got my loft. 

2. How long have you been racing now in tandem or on your own?  

I raced from 2012 until 2019 in tandem with my father under the name ‘Cools Jolien & Hugo’. Now I’m building my future together with Kurt and don’t have a loft at the moment for a while. I will especially help out Kurt the coming season. 

3. Which discipline (which distances and cocks/hens/old/youngsters are all) do you race and why? 

Short distance, both Quièvrain and Noyon, I don’t have the patience to wait too long for the pigeons 😉 , and this with old and yearling cocks and young cocks and hens. 

4. How many pigeons do you have? 

So at the moment none, my pigeons stay at this instant both at Kurt as at my fathers’ loft. 

5. Are you involved in a club? If yes, what do you do and where? If no, would you like to or why not? 

I’m in the management from Vooruitzicht Wuustwezel as secretary. And we also help out every weekend with basketing and serving drinks. 

Pigeon fancier n°4 : Kurt Michielsen – 25 year – Wuustwezel

 1. Since how long are you a pigeon fancier / who introduced you to the sport? 

I started out when I was 15  (in 2005). This due to my grandfathers and their brothers. My grandfather on mothers’ side lives right behind us. I went to visit him every day to talk about pigeons. 

2. How long have you been racing now in tandem or on your own?  

I raced from 2005 until 2018 in tandem with my grandfather. He unfortunately passed away end of 2018, so I have been racing on my own since 2019. But from this season on I will get the help of my girlfriend, Jolien Cools.

3. Which discipline (which distances and cocks/hens/old/youngsters are all) do you race and why? 

Short distance and short middle distance. This year the focus will only be on the short distance races due to lack of time as Jolien and I are building our future house, but to be honest I prefer the middle distance race. I only race cocks and youngsters. 

4. How many pigeons do you have? 

- Breeders : 15 couples + a few cocks and hens that aren’t coupled 
- Old /year birds : 8
- Youngsters : +- 45

5. Are you involved in a club? If yes, what do you do and where? If no, would you like to or why not? 

I’m in the management of Vooruitzicht Wuustwezel, help out basketing and opening of the clocks.