Sjaak Buwalda – Partner in Holland
Visiting the south of Portugal to visit an event where we wait with 4000 fellow pigeonman, try to explain that to normal people who have no connection with pigeonsport? Well that sort of is my life in pigeonsport as well, for many appearantly hard to believe. Can’t remember explaining how many times to people what my daytime job is, can you pay your mortgage from pigeons? Probably ever since I can walk I have been involved in our great sport following in my father’s footsteps. We live in a small town named Balk, where pigeonsport was introduced by Belgain refugees after the wars. My father well in his eighties telling me stories about his childhood and first steps in pigeonsport. Our local pigeonracinglife evolved and found its peak in the 1980’s where our club was at it biggest having over 30 active racing lofts. Just in our street and around the corner there where four lofts and I remember visiting many on my bike on racingday’s finding out the times of arrival so we had a sneakpeak of how we performed that before the clocks where opened. The whole week was organized around racingdays. Many things changed, many things for the best, and time has taken it’s toll, but isnt that normal. In those day’s we all raced our normal programm which is some 15 weeks with old birds from 100 to 700 kilometer, the youngbird season starting in august which where some 6 races untill 300km in those days, and finaly ending the season with the late tour for old and young birds combined in 4 short distance races. The base of that schedule is still the same, but what changed in our club is that most have made a step tot the extreme long distance racing in which the members from our area have become very succesfull in. Even as a young boy my main interest was in those long distance races, reading so much about it in the magazines. All the national winners got great attention from the press, much more than any short race would ever get. So my interest in these races was wide awake. And when I earned my first money, you bet I was going to buy pigeons for the marathon races, although my father was not realy happy with is, as he is a born programm racer. Still I went and bought my first ever eggs from no less than Michel Vanhee, and what in impression than made on me when I was 17. A four our drive with my father and friend of his, and only I was allowed in the lofts, can you imagine. I don’t think I have ever been more nervous on the way back home with the eggs in a carboard box on my lap. Sweating bullets I can tell you.
After finishing my education in higher economics, I got a job at Hans Eijerkamp and sons as office manager, what we call here is boy’s book adventure. How many people dream of turning their hobby or sport into a proffesion, luck came flying to me I guess. I will tell you some more about this period in some other article. But I can tell you, when working for a pigeonmad family your life is about to change I can tell you. It is like a mechanic starting his carreer at Ferrari, with a reference like that doors are opening up, and gave me an oprtunity to visit many countries all over the globe. where pigeonsport is active. Nowadays I am an agent for four one loft races, involved with two auctionsites and regular job as representative for Matador pigeonfood in Holland and Belgium, and ofcourse owning my breedingcentre for pigeons. One loft racing is growing fast and probably is the future of our great sport, about which I will tell you some more about my experiences in this matter in the next article.
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