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A conversation with B v Oeckel

Belgian Bart van Oeckel made it to the top in no more than a decade.

A winning mentality and a smart set of "pigeon brains " brought him this far. Furthermore he is a man with a message. I had a nice chat with him.

What attracts you in pigeon sport?
A lot. We are especially happy with the friends that we made.  

The sport is often associated with the old man in the dust coat.

But at many pigeon shows we still see that modern pigeon sport is practiced by young dynamic people as well.

What is your best memory ?
The first time we won a provincial victory, later of course the National victories and having an Olympic pigeon is also unforgettable.

What is your worst memory ?
We had a lot of confidence in man, but we found that he had not deserved it.

Such things hurt .

What is the biggest mistake you ever made ?
In my first years I tried to force successes with medication.

I medicated and medicated, again and again.

But you, Ad S, have taught me how to deal with drugs: "Few cures and if you cure do it thoroughly. Smaller doses in hot weather, through the food in cold weather since pigeons hardly drink then", you advised me. I am still grateful. As soon as others will realize that medication does not help it will be tougher for me to excel.

What is the best move you ever made?
There was this man who was willing to become my loft manager, provided I would buy all his birds. Those were 80 and of course that was too much.

We picked out some Geerinckx birds and their descendants have brought both my father and me great successes. One became the father of 3 absolute top birds.

What is your greatest gift ?
I"ve been successful with everything I did in life because I always managed to surround myself with the right people. I myself am not good at anything but always find the right people to make up for this..


How to stop the decline in this sport?
- Make races more fair. Now there are fanciers who race 100 birds or more. This is very discouraging for fanciers who only have few birds. There should be a limit.

- Fanciers should only be able to buy 100 rings maximum a year for birds that they want to race. These rings should have a normal price. If they want to buy more for business these rings should be more expensive.

- All races should take place on one day, say Saturday. Much better for family life.
- Encourage partnerships. Modern pigeon sport has become too complex to be practiced by one man alone.

What think you of todays racing programs?
Two short distance races on the same day is ridiculous. When we were with 80,000 fanciers this was not so much a problem, but times changed.

The result is two races with few birds.

- There are far too many 2 day races. The result is again few birds in the races.

Races from 800 kms and 860 kms on the same day is ridiculous.

B v Oeckel, his father, wife and loft manager

And what about the National championships as they are?
Not too bad but some things I do not understand.

Take National La Souteraine in June. Why does it count for the championship and why not national La Souterraine in August?


Where are the best birds?

Great long distance (Two day races) and All Round in Holland.

In the province of Antwerp are the best birds for fast middle distance races. Those are the birds with a band that starts 6.


What do you think about eyes and eyes sign?

I know nothing about eyes. Nice eyes or pedigrees do not win prizes.

From whom did you learn a lot?
First of all from you, Ad S, later on from Eric Limbourg, Pascal Arien and Bart Geerinckx. With him I now exchange experiences.

With whom would you like to chat an evening about pigeons?
With anyone who has something to say. I"ve found that Dutch talk faster and easier than Belgians. They are more open as well.

Belgians seem afraid they would make the opponent wiser.

It is always fun to talk with Koopman. Nice guy he is.


Is feeding important?
Sure. If you do not do it the birds will die.

Now more serious. For hard races from 500 to 700 kms I think it is very important to

feed birds well.  Birds that are fed well will train well. Birds that train well will eat well.

What do you find an important additive?

Minerals and stuff that help to recover, like electrolytes. I do not believe in vitamins.

Is tossing important?

At the end of the season we often go on the road with our old birds and we found it is worth it. We also toss our youngsters very often then but strangely enough their results were poor in the last two years.

A hint to the pigeon press ?
They should learn to read results better before commenting on them. The fanciers with few birds are ignored too often while they are often better than the great names.


A message for novices and fanciers without results?

- Forget the auctions on the internet.

- Do not pay much for birds.

- Do not keep many birds.

- Get them from non-commercial lofts. There birds are cheaper and often better.

- Try to involve your family so that they too experienced pigeons.

So far Bart:

People should not be able to buy more than 100 rings per year as he says?  

Hmmm. Not bad. But I think this suggestion is too revolutionary for many.