A different approach
In Holland 15 fanciers per week quit the sport while in Belgium the number of fanciers went down from 250.000 to 30.000.
Unfortunately we see the sport going down worldwide, apart from Poland, China and the Southern part of Portugal: Algarve.
Portugal itself also 'lost' about 10,000 fanciers but the sport remains stable inAlgarve.
There were about 1,000 fanciers and there are still are.
In Holland the Union asks fanciers who quit for the reason, but one might also ask fanciers in Algarve why they are so enthusiastic and why the average age there is so much younger than in Holland and Belgium.
I wrote about Algarve before but got some more interesting information recently.
In Western Europe 'we' have our National shows in Blackpool, Oostende,Dortmund, Kassel and Houten.
In Southern Europe (Portugal) they also have their National 'pigeon days' but there they are held at a different location every year.
January 15th and 16th 2011 the Show was held in the little town of Tavira in'Algarve.
I was there and was surprised to see things were organised so well by Chairman Mr Rui and his staff.
The exhibition was held in 3 huge halls.
It was not much different from those in other countries, apart from the fact that things were so neat and clear.
Some of my Belgian fellow companions visited one of the so-called 'pigeon villages' and were deeply impressed, which I can understand.
20 Lofts close to each other paid by the authorities to enable people to race pigeons is unique in the world.
I guess Mr Rui and Mr Teresa also deserve the credits for this.
Did they use their authority to convince the local governors pigeon sport is a wonderful pastime that deserves to be supported?
A great difference with Holland and Belgium is that people over there do all the work for the sport for free; no one wants to be paid.
What a difference with Holland and Belgium where everybody who works for the club and their club mates get paid.
There was no entry fee for the National exhibition either.
In Holland people have to pay to visit the exhibition and the organisation still costs money. I wonder how they do it in Portugal.
There are 3 series of races:
- 7 Short distance races.
- 7 Middle Distance races.
- 7 Long distance races.
21 Races a year is good enough they find and therefore there are no young bird races.
What a difference with Belgium.
In some areas over there are up to 6 races in ONE weekend.
Youngsters, yearlings and old birds fly separately (in the past also hens) and understandably many fanciers find this too much.
They also want to live; spend time with their families.
In the past, when there were 250,000 fanciers 6 races in one weekend was acceptable, but now that the number of fanciers went down dramatically the Belgians should adapt to the new situation but Belgians do not like to break with old customs.
On the other hand it must be said that it frustrates Portuguese that their Olympiad birds have no chance to show off with an impressive record (or points) due to the fact that they do not have the opportunities that fanciers in other countries have.
But in fact in Holland and Belgium the situation is not fair either.
In some areas in Holland the season for old birds ends in June, while elsewhere people can race until middle September.
In Belgium many fanciers have no chance to have a National Ace or an Olympiad bird since in the area where they race too few birds participate.
Furthermore I noticed that people in Portugal like Pedro Lopez, Dr. Madeirra and others are well informed about the sport in Belgium and Holland.
What they do not understand is that fanciers in Holland can enter as many birds as they want for a race.
Pigeon sport is a sport for every one, they claim.
But how can a man with a job, who has a little yard and a little loft with few pigeons compete with professionals who enter up to 200 birds for a race or more?
In Portugal the entry is limited (30 birds), if fanciers want to race more than 30 the rest are in another team.
In my opinion they do the right thing.
What surprised me as well was to hear there was a local radio station that covers pigeon sport one day per week.
On racing day there are interviews and all listeners are updated on the race, the weather, the arrivals, the speed and so on.
It cannot be a coincidence that this radio station is located in an area where 20 clubs are close together.
It reminds me of the old days here when our National TV paid attention to pigeon sport in the weekend and when every Monday the leading daily magazines had a full page on our sport as well.
But then there were not 30,000 fanciers but over 200,000.
In Algarve the sport is as popular as it ever was.
This cannot be a coincidence and must have a reason.