Reports & News - Racing pigeons in the Netherlands (1)
In a number of contributions I'm going to try to give u a view of the organization of the sport of pigeon racing in the Netherlands. How many fanciers are members of our organization (NPO)? Who flies against whom? How many National flights and which national competitions are there? All these matters are discussed.
The Dutch racing pigeon fanciers organization NPO (Nederlandse Postduivenhouders Organisatie) was founded more than eighty years ago. Prior to that time there were several regional organizations, those organizations stayed active while at first the NPO only was responsible for the administration and distribution of pigeon rings. Unfortunately, it seems that the current NPO directors want to go back to this situation.
At present, twelve sections, are affiliated to the NPO, which consists of a total of 22.454 members (per 1 February 2012). These members are affiliated with 863 local clubs, the average club in the Netherlands has 26 members. The largest section is Section 8/ GOU with 2.883 members, the smallest section is Section 12/De Kuststrook with 776 members.
In contrast to Belgium, where fanciers have more freedom to choose flights in which they want to race their pigeons, Dutch pigeons fanciers are not allowed to race their pigeons in flights organized by another section than their own. Only in extreme cases an exception is made and dispensation is granted.
The NPO organizes a number of national flights for sectors. The Netherlands is divided in four sectors, each sector consists of 2, 3 or 4 sections. Thus in a national sectoral flight the fanciers of f2, 3 or 4 sections compete against each other. At present there is only one flight in which all members of NPO compete against each other, that’s the flight from St. Vincent. There are also flights in which members of two sectors compete against each other, for example the flight from Orange, the only flight with a morning release, in which all enthusiasts from middle and northern Netherlands can participate. For lovers from the South it is not allowed to participate in this flight.
A national one-day long distance flight is no longer part of the NPO program. Several years ago we had the flights from Blois and Châteauroux but fanciers complained with various reasons. The northern sections complained that the distance was too long and that they and their pigeons had no chance due to that fact, the southern departments complained that the flights were too short for their long distance programma. People, however, did not realize that the competition at the section level became fairer due to the national (and massive) release.
In 2012 the 'national' one-day long distance flight is held from four stations: Argenton, Tours, Blois and Orléans. One station for each sector.
The sections organize their own flights, only since recently and with flights above 500 kilometers, in some cases sections collaborate with each and release their pigeons together.
NPO selects some of the flights organized by sections for the National championships, these flights are popular NPO-flights. Since a few years there are also a number of short distance and middle distance flights from which the winners are placed on whose fastest pigeons are placed on teletext. However, these flights are not NPO-flights! In many cases there isn’t even a national score, it is just the fastest pigeons that appear on teletext. Some fanciers refer to these flights as ‘NPO-flights’ or ‘National flights’, but that is actually an incorrect name.
International competition organized by the ZLU
In the Netherlands the ZLU ( Zuid Limburgse Unie) has the responsibility for the organization of international flights, flights in which fanciers from different countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, parts of France, Luxemburg and the UK) compete against each other. International flights in the 2012 program are: Pau, Agen (Bordeaux), Barcelona, St. Vincent, Marseille, Narbonne and Perpignan. To enter the ZLU-flights, fanciers have to be member of NPO, but there are no restrictions on the level of the sections. In 2011 1.084 fanciers entered the ZLU-flights, that’s almost 5 percent of the NPO-members.
In 2008 the Northern Union (NU) was established. At first as a counterpart to the ZLU (which is from the southernmost part of the Netherlands) for lovers from the North, but in 2009 also one-day races were on the program which was welcomed by a large proportion of the members.
Unfortunately in 2010 only one one-day long distance race was on the program due to disagreements between sections.
The Northern Union consists of the sections 7-11 and has 11.309 members from the Netherlands. In addition, also German enthusiasts from the border area of northern Germany are allowed to participate in the flights of the Northern Union, making these flights carry the status ‘international’.
The 2012 program of the Northern Union has six marathon flights (above 800 kilometers) and, luckily, again three one-day long distance races (500-700 km). These flights are generally from two releasing stations (1 for section 7-9 and a part of Germany and one for section 10, 11 and another part of Germany)
In my next contribution I will discuss the national competitions organized by the NPO.
Falco Ebben, 2012