PIPA's pre-season questions 2021 (part 2)

Today, it is time for part 2! This time we have Youri Deblanc, Leo & Gerry Dockx, Team Van Oss, and Davy Tournelle with us.

We posed to them these 8 questions as well:

  1. From whom did you learn the most about the pigeon sport? Who was your mentor?
  2. Which moment or achievement of your pigeon career are you the proudest of?
  3. What are your objectives for 2021, or what would you be satisfied with when the 2021 season is over?
  4. Who will be the big surprise of 2021 according to you?
  5. Imagine, tomorrow you are suddenly in charge of the National Pigeon Union, what would you want to change to the current pigeon sport?
  6. What is the greatest mistake that you have ever made with your own loft?
  7. The slogan goes "Pigeon sport, family sport". What is the attitude of your partner or family towards it?
  8. What is the ultimate tip that you want to give to a starting pigeon fancier?

Youri Deblanc (Ronse, BE)

Youri has been conquering the national pigeon top in recent years with his Julien-line. This ambitious fancier ‘throws’ himself completely into the sport despite his family members having a bigger soft spot for horses.

Youri Deblanc and his supporting ladies.

From whom did you learn the most about the pigeon sport? Who was your mentor?
My two mentors were, and still are, Eric Vermander and Pascal Ariën. I have a great relationship with both these two top fanciers, and on a personal level as well. I have been asking them regularly for advice for many years (and sometimes they ask me too). Besides that, I am constantly thinking about raising the quality of my birds, and I read everything that I can get my hands on. I keep good records and not only discuss things with my mentors but also often with friends (Eddy, Geert, Bruno, …). In short, anything that makes you think is welcome.

Which moment or achievement of your pigeon career are you the proudest of?
I am the proudest of my breeding pigeons (“The Juliens”) that I have built up in recent years. This breed has, in a few years time, achieved the national top-10 multiple times. Of course, winning the 1st national Libourne in 2019 after a few weeks is a very close second, a moment to never forget.

What are your objectives for 2021, or what would you be satisfied with when the 2021 season is over?
Until now I have primarily invested in my breeding loft by systematically putting the winners of the national top-10 immediately back in the breeding pens. In 2021, my objectives are to qualify in the top-5 of the national ace pigeons long distance, and extremely long distance, as well as the top-5 of the national championship long distance, and extremely long distance. This time, I will keep playing my better ones a while longer instead of putting them immediately in the breeding pens, hopefully with the desired result.

Who will be the big surprise of 2021 according to you?
When you say surprise, I think about strong upcoming talent and not the established folk that have been around from the start…. For that reason I choose younger guys from around here, other people I know less well after all. For the heavier work: Gregory Demaret (Demaret-Marichal) and Nico Fourneau, on the long middle distance: Davy Neirynck.

Imagine, tomorrow you are suddenly in charge of the National Pigeon Union, what would you want to change to the current pigeon sport?
I think that the current board wants to make progress and is taking good steps on the matters of communication, promotion of the pigeon sport, and digitalisation. What I would primarily work on, in consultation, is to establish some kind of basketting restriction, mostly for the local level. Someone can, for example, give 100 pigeons on the national level, however, on the regional list, only 20% of these can make the list. At least, something of that nature, and of course to be worked out in consultation. Besides that, I would put the modernization of the doping policy on the agenda, there is currently nothing on that issue.

What is the greatest mistake that you have ever made with your own loft?
Keeping too little of my own breed… and thinking the grass is greener on the other side.

The slogan goes "Pigeon sport, family sport". What is the attitude of your partner or family towards it?
My “5 ladies” (wife and 4 daughters) all do horse riding (dressage) and thus are not very involved with my hobby. They do support me and get emotionally involved. As long as they let me do my own thing (laughs). I do get a lot of help from my best friend Jeroen, who did not used to be a fancier but has caught it quite badly these days. In the summer, it is always fun around here with friends and my family during the basketting, for example during a BBQ.

What is the ultimate tip that you want to give to a starting pigeon fancier?
Above all, think about what you want to achieve and then work out how you want to do it. Then, work (hard) for it. It might be a cliché, but starting with the right quality pigeons is naturally the most important. For several years in a row, get some eggs from a strong playing fancier (1 of 2) after the season is done. A fancier who allows you to get quality in the cheapest and best way. Then you breed and select thoroughly till you have a breed… and keep a cool head!

Leo & Gerry Dockx (Koningshooikt, BE)

The sympathetic father and son combinations from Koningshooikt, a borough of Lier, are men of few words. Their deeds in the pigeon sport however have been causing top performances for many years.

Leo & Gerry do not lack in assistance.

From whom did you learn the most about the pigeon sport? Who was your mentor?
That would be Gaston Van De Wouwer.

Which moment or achievement of your pigeon career are you the proudest of?
That is a tough choice to make, so let us keep it to 3 `moments`:

- 2013 : 1. Nat. Nevers

- 2014 : Nat. Ace Pigeon Sprint Young Birds. This was with “Tarzan”. 

- 2020 : - 4. Nat. Ace Pigeon Yearlings

              - 8 pigeons in the top-100 of the national race from La Souterraine

              -  Grandchildren of Niels and Dries: 20 times a 1st price on Noyon

.What are your objectives for 2021, or what would you be satisfied with when the 2021 season is over?
Getting a national victory would be great.

Who will be the big surprise of 2021 according to you?
Dockx - Van den Broeck

Imagine, tomorrow you are suddenly in charge of the National Pigeon Union, what would you want to change to the current pigeon sport?
I would like a national race every week on the program for us. 

What is the greatest mistake that you have ever made with your own loft?
I would have to think about that. 

The slogan goes "Pigeon sport, family sport". What is the attitude of your partner or family towards it?
Here it is a collective happening. All of the family, from big to small, young or old; everyone here is dedicated to the pigeon sport.

What is the ultimate tip that you want to give to a starting pigeon fancier?
It is best to keep listening to the same confidante and to not get too many different breeds in your loft.

Team Van Oss (Velddriel, NL)

What's in a name... The Team Van Oss is really a team in every meaning of the word. Father and oldest, Rien, and his son, Irving, have been assisted for 30 years by loft manager, Erik. The tasks are clear and make the team one huge successful combination.

The complete Team Van Oss: Erik van de Laak, Rien & Irving van Oss

From whom did you learn the most about the pigeon sport? Who was your mentor?
I learned the most from my father, Rien van Oss, who, in turn, learned it from his father, and his father-in-law. So, from both my grandpas.

Which moment or achievement of your pigeon career are you the proudest of?
The year 2018. That year, we won the national sector race Chateauroux old birds with the top pigeon, gebroken Poot.

We also won the national sector race Melun young birds with top hen Nettie, and we even placed 1 through 5 out of more than 8000 birds.

2018 was an extremely good year with 11 times the top 10 in the sector (Province 7, 8, 9).

What are your objectives for 2021, or what would you be satisfied with when the 2021 season is over?
Our focus is primarily on the one day long distance, and that is really where we want to shine.

If we succeed in winning a NPO race or get multiple pigeons in the top-10, we are satisfied.

Who will be the big surprise of 2021 according to you?
I am thinking that Team Snellen from Den Bosch will do even better this year than they have done so far.

These fanciers do everything they can to get the best out of their birds, and with Diny, 3rd Olympic pigeon allround of the Netherland season 2019-2020, they have a true wonder bird in their racing loft. They also rely on the top couple de Pros x Lady Harry who were bred by us.

Imagine, tomorrow you are suddenly in charge of the National Pigeon Union, what would you want to change to the current pigeon sport?
I would like the program to contain 8 semi-national one-day long distance races in a row spread over the North of the Netherlands (Roughly the same distance as Orleans), and the south of the Netherlands (distance Chateauroux).

This prevents mass basketing, something most fanciers dislike since we can not let our pigeons fly 600km every week, most certainly not in a heavy racing season. For a championship, you could then, for example, say that the best 5 races count.

The younger pigeons too, I would like to have a few more races with longer distances on the program.

What is the greatest mistake that you have ever made with your own loft?
Our greatest mistake was investing too late in good new pigeons. We stuck too long to one breed, so to say.


The slogan goes "Pigeon sport, family sport". What is the attitude of your partner or family towards it?
My wife, Janne, grants me all the time I need to optimally take care of the birds, and I am immensely grateful for this.

We are also a team, together with my father and Erik van der Laak (our loft manager), so that does make everything a little bit easier.

What is the ultimate tip that you want to give to a starting pigeon fancier?
The most important thing in the pigeon sport is to get good birds, so you have to be able to (learn how to) read the results properly.

It is really not true that the most expensive pigeons are the best.

Also, let yourself be properly educated by a good local fancier on the subject of lofts. Besides that, obviously, a ton of effort.

Davy Tournelle (Rummen, BE)

The family Tournelle has been a true pigeon family for many generations. Davy is the most recent in a long legacy. Together with his father, Patrick, he runs the known colonies in Rummen daily.

Patrick & Ann with their son Davy Tournelle

From whom did you learn the most about the pigeon sport? Who was your mentor?
I learned from a lot of people. I always try to listen well to people who have already achieved much within the sport. If we go onto loft visits we always keep our eyes open because it is often the small things that make a big difference. As is generally known, my father is my great helping hand. He taught me much and still often says I should do things this way or that.

Since last year, Jelle Roziers has been teaching me the finer points of the young birds game, and we immediately noticed the difference. Once again, thanks for this Jelle.

Which moment or achievement of your pigeon career are you the proudest of?
We are very satisfied and proud of last season. The performance of Tulle was completely unexpected for us.

Honestly, Tiesto’s Lady too gave us shocking moments throughout last season. We wanted to take the risk to keep playing her after her national victory, and afterwards she achieved the title of 3rd Nat. Ace Pigeon KBDB Long Middle Distance.

What are your objectives for 2021, or what would you be satisfied with when the 2021 season is over?
We hope to finish a season in good weather conditions. In good weather conditions, good pigeons will show themselves. However, the wind shall decide the winners of 2021. Though we do try every time to set the bar as high as possible.

Who will be the big surprise of 2021 according to you?
I could not immediately answer this.

Imagine, tomorrow you are suddenly in charge of the National Pigeon Union, what would you want to change to the current pigeon sport?
I would never want to do that! The pressure that is sometimes put on the people of the KBDB cannot be underestimated. However, I would opt for using the same racing program every year, and to have a national race scheduled every week. Everyone is free to participate. For 2021, there are provincial and interprovincial races scheduled in the weeks that there are no national races, but even then, these birds fly a provincial race of 500km.

However, I would like it if all the provinces had the same criteria for the national championship. Last year, some provinces were allowed to use the all-round ace pigeons long middle distance, and other provinces were not.

What is the greatest mistake that you have ever made with your own loft?
Frankly, two things have stuck with me on that topic:

Changing up my standard system. Our pigeons train and eat every day at roughly the same hour. Just having a standard rhythm. This is easy for both men as animals.

Secondly, not vaccinating the young birds against smallpox.

The slogan goes "Pigeon sport, family sport". What is the attitude of your partner or family towards it?
In this case, “pigeon sport, family sport” actually holds true. I was pretty much raised in a pigeon fancier family. I am the 4th generation in a row who has been racing with pigeons. As I mentioned earlier, I do race with my name, however, without all the help of my father, this would not be possible. It should be known that we spent 12 to 14 hours a day during the full season. Both of us can say that we have extremely good wives as well because they grant us every second we spend on the pigeons. Standing behind every man is a strong woman.

What is the ultimate tip that you want to give to a starting pigeon fancier?
Do not keep more pigeons than you can handle. Select firmly on natural health. The basket is the best teacher. Trust in yourself and in your pigeons.