A large reception for the visitors.
And a few more questions for the young champion…
Doesn’t it go wrong with these large numbers of pigeons that are basketed?
Bas Verkerk: “For me as a fancier, a large number of pigeons has an indisputable advantage with the selection. You can expect much higher performances, because only the real top goes into the breeding loft. But fair is fair… for the purity of the pigeon sport, it isn’t good. For that reason, a solution had to be found. At a local level… more specificly, ‘De Snelvlucht’ Bodegraven, where Willem de Bruijn and ourselves do our racing… a solution had already been found. Only 10% of the birds that the two of us basket can come on the result list.
A meeting was held with all members, without us both, and this solution was elected. If the club should want a different solution in the future, we will abide by their wishes.
The ‘Idea Vredeveld’ is not bad either, I think. For the one day results and the Loft championship, only the top 20 pigeons on the pool papers count. For the Duif championship (Ace pigeons), all pigeons would be classified on a separate outcome.”
Why didn’t you move to Belgium, where race opportunities are significantly larger ?
“Let’s say that father and son Verkerk have to race together with the pigeons… and therefore prefer to live under one roof. We have built a double house… nr 55 and nr 55a.
Our pigeon sport has to stay within the family and we are not too keen on outside help. And it’s obvious that we wouldn’t leave the rest of the family (sisters, grandchildren) in Holland.
The best races in Belgium are the national races… this in comparison to the sector races in Holland. But the fragmentation and division in Belgium is more of a disadvantage than an advantage. For instance, in Belgium during the same weekend you can basket a part of your racing team in several places, and that depending on position and wind. That is not possible in Holland.
We deliberately choose one race per weekend for either speed… middle-distance… long-distance… or extra long-distance. We’d rather watch out for 20 returning pigeons from Bordeaux than for 5 pigeons out of 4 different races. It’s important that all good pigeons are entered in one and the same race to make a serious selection. In a particularly difficult race, the whole racing team has to show their worth… without exception.”
And what about the switch to professional pigeon sport?
“After my studies I worked at a real estate agency for three years. But when the pigeons started to perform well, we wanted to acquire more birds, and at that point I stopped working. So now at the new location… with a professional accommodation… now I’m a ‘full time professional’. To make of your hobby your work… that is probably the dream of every fancier.
Which doesn’t mean that you are simply switching to a lazy sort of life. The cock crows at 6.30 am here… and the books are closed at 10 in the evening. Our task involves not only looking after the pigeons, but also the administration… public relations… the many visits of customers… and so on. Family life and privacy are frequently disrupted, which is why we added a spacious reception room to the complex. But I really like doing it!
In the future, we will have to cope with a pigeon sport that is ever more aging. A smaller group of very passionate fanciers will call the shots.
In that I don’t see the mega lofts as the biggest problem, because a small fancier with the same commitment and ambition will be able to achieve as well as the bigger lofts.”
Is professional pigeon sport still sport and passion?
“Keeping pigeons just for the money is not possible for me! Passion and the determination to win, that is what I do it all for. If it would only be for pure gain, I would doubtlessly have sold all Ace pigeons and Olympiad pigeons, and would by now be lying on a bed of roses. But that is not how it works! I haven’t sold my toppers! I have a bond with my pigeons, and it is certainly not just about the money.
Besides, I don’t think it’s so simple to sell the old core group… and make another blitz start with a new group of young pigeons. Fanciers who try this, seldom succeed in performing at the same level as before.
The future of a professional fancier lies mainly in the trade with China… Taiwan… and now also Kuwait. I have already mentioned that the number of pigeons here will not be increased. The end of the flight program is the races from 900-1100 kilometres with a morning release. The racing team will be divided… 70% on the middle-distance + long-distance… 30% for extra long-distance. As a fancier, I will always be passionately searching for the real toppers on the middle-distance… long-distance… and extra long-distance.”