Let me first add that this part of the feature contains opinions from various representatives, who have a greater understanding of the problems faced by their own individual countries. We do not mean to be critical of, or offer excuses on behalf of, any teams performance, but rather prefer to gather a constructive, if at times blunt, viewpoint. Look on it as more a 'snapshot' of how some teams approached various problems and whether their ability, or inability to adapt, contributed to their ultimate result.

Spain & Portugal
It is still difficult comprehend the failure of the Iberian teams to master their own destiny, effectively on a venue ready-made for their styles. Some teams have to wait for the opportunity for an event to be held in their own backyard in order to have any chance of glory. Once this opportunity is wasted, there are few left in the highly competitive world of international fishing. On a personal note, I was dismayed to see the fiasco of scales on day one in B section, and apparently in others, due to the organisers inability to supply and test a suitable quality product. To see fish coming in and out of the water like a yo-yo, as scales were set, then un-set, was frustrating and disappointing. Thankfully, FIPSed, having been previously assured by the organisers that their scales were suitable, took charge of the situation for day two and brought in correct scales so that we had a more accurate operation during the weigh-in.

The Spanish team pose for the opening ceremony presentation. The following two days would see them fall to a dismal 22nd position.The Spanish team pose for the opening ceremony presentation. The following two days would see them fall to a dismal 22nd position.The Portuguese faired a little better in their overall position, but only just. Their 17th place finish would have been, like the Spanish, a massive blow to them. We hope they both recover at Coruche.The Portuguese faired a little better in their overall position, but only just. Their 17th place finish would have been, like the Spanish, a massive blow to them. We hope they both recover at Coruche.An Iberian collapse!
by Francisco J. Martin Giraldo (Paco)
Some people have asked me what happened to Spain and Portugal and their disastrous collapse in Merida. I believe part of the problem is quite easy to answer. For me, both Spain and Portugal, and perhaps some other teams, did not fish as a group, but placed more on individual glory than team success, unlike England and Italy who show just how it should be, as they are only the real 'professionals' on the bank. The other problem is that the management of the team's is not as competent as the anglers themselves, and so do not earn the anglers full respect when it comes to tactical decisions. Spain in particular confused the tactics completely. Their obsession with carp and the carassins (carassio's) allowed them to overlook the importance of the bleak and catfish until it was too late in the match. In fact the results of the team were as bad as the organisation. Believe me when I say that we organise club competitions every Sunday much better for 10 months of the year... and they contain 250 anglers!

Eds Note: Perhaps one of the greatest disasters and disappointments to befall both Spain and Portugal, when you take into account it was effectively their home waters (Portugal is less than an hours drive away)! How could such a result be obtained without some systematic failure of tactics, it's hard to imagine and I'm sure it will be the subject of 'heated' debate in both countries for years to come. Both have proved they have anglers capable of high points, so perhaps we must look in some respects, to Paco's insider knowledge? Even so, day two proved a worse result than day one for Spain so it's hard to imagine that any lessons were learnt at all. Whatever the case, both countries will have an opportunity to prove the Merida result was a 'one-off' this September, during the European's at Coruche.

Yet again we see the complete and utter 'Gallic-demise' in a sport they once controlled and dominated... why? They still have some of the world's finest anglers, yet their position in world rankings is on the slide. Perhaps we should look more closely at internal and inbred problems, for reasons regarding their failure to regain their once proud position amongst the world's elite. David Ewing is closely associated with many of Frances' top anglers, as well as the country's premier angling publication InfoPeche, so he is well placed to comment, on much of what goes on regarding the French system.

Why are French struggling?
by David Ewing
This year has not been a great year for French sport. Their football team is now the subject of a parliamentary investigation, to discover just what went wrong. Whilst this smells of populist posturing by President Sarkozy, a fundamental restructuring will no doubt result. Well, if he has a moment or two spare, he could well do the same thing for angling!

A smiling French team but were they really prepared enough?A smiling French team but were they really prepared enough?To understand why France have once again turned in a mediocre result in a World Championship, you need to look beyond the anglers on the bank and their tactics over the two days, to the structure that lies behind them. It seems to me, as an informed outsider, to contain several fundamental weaknesses in the Team France structure at the moment, which can be categorised as follows:


Alain Dewimille nets in a typical continental fashion. Alain, although one of Frances' top canal anglers, showed his versatility on an unfamiliar water with Frances' second best result behind Didier.Alain Dewimille nets in a typical continental fashion. Alain, although one of Frances' top canal anglers, showed his versatility on an unfamiliar water with Frances' second best result behind Didier.In France you have to fish in either the 1st or 2nd Individual Division's to be selected. This sounds fair enough on the face of it, but each division is made up of 24 anglers, with 8 relegated and promoted each year. The reason why you can fish for your country in the 2nd division is you are still within one promotion of the 1st Division. There is a lot to say for these individual championships. Held over four legs and two days, with random draws, the matches are open to rod and reel angling as well as the pole. Didier Delannoy won last year’s championship on the bolo and he didn't even set a pole up in the championships! But Didier is a raw talent and exceptional, compared to many other anglers. 

For the majority competing, there always seems to be more focus on avoiding relegation, rather than winning. There's a lot of defensive angling going on at this level, because it takes just two bad years... relegated from the 1st, and then from the 2nd and your international career is over! Because of this, there are many top-class anglers who DO NOT fish in the 1st or 2nd Division's. The country also holds a separate rod and reel championship were anglers cannot be selected for any international team, simply on the strength of a good result in them, even if a forthcoming venue will be an out-an-out waggler match! At Merida, helping with coaching the French squad was Gerard Trinquier, who is very knowledgeable about carp fishing on rivers in Spain. He did after all come second in this year’s Iberian Masters. But Gerard cannot fish for France... because he does not compete in the 1st or 2nd Individual Division Championships!

There was much criticism of the previous management team under Henri Durozier, which was very inward-looking in the way it functioned. Misseri is a much more open and engaging personality, but the management still have to establish the right network of links and contacts to make sure that their preparations on the bank are also equally focused on the job in hand. This year the French have been slightly unlucky in that the team that was picked, would have been very good on the original venue at Ciudad Real. They are all good rhythmical anglers, who would have been hard to beat at catching fish every put in, and accurately topping-up a ball of groundbait a cast, which was the way the Lake Vicario looked like it was going to fish... the French excel at this. However, the switch of venue placed the same anglers in front of a more tactical venue, were less emphasis was placed on speed and fluid fishing action, and more on tactical feeding and doing the right thing at the right time. InfoPeche had asked once the venue had been altered whether the team would be changed, in order to get a better mix of angler for the new venue. The answer was “No, the guys have booked holidays and are ready to go.” I actually respect Misseri for this, because on a human-level, he did not want to demoralise any of his squad by suddenly dropping them. As a consequence, it highlighted the lack and depth of versatility in the squad, because they were not able to successfully adapt to the change of venue. Could you imagine the England management dropping Raison and Gardener because the venue had changed?

The groundbait thing
French anglers struggle with World Champs venues where you need to manage feeding a lot of bait... stickymag, chopped worms etc. It seems to me that once you go away from the classic bloodworm over groundbait or scratching matches, like perch over soil, the French always struggle. But why? Well, as a nation they are far too obsessed with groundbait and do not understand other baits enough. This is because most French matches are fished to strict 250gr or 500gr live bait limits with 17 litres of groundbait. There is no way that these anglers will ever become good at managing quantities of stickymag, or understanding how to deal with worm and caster in soil, if every national match they fish in the year is done to these repressive bait limits! Behind all this is the French groundbait industry, who have everything to gain from maintaining the 'status quo'. Who is going to feed balls of stickymag when there is a 250gr live bait limit? Try cupping in a quarter kilo of worms when everyone else is chucking 'jaffas' of groundbait with a bit of joker! I talk with Didier Delannoy quite a lot and he is fed up fishing in France. “It is always the same. No one can think 'outside the box' because there is no room to do anything different” Didier has increased his knowledge and understanding of all things outside this restrictive box, by fishing alongside Alan Scotthorne in England on many occassions. Only he, in the current squad, has this kind of experience and outlook.

Looking inward too much

This brings me to the last and most fundamental problem with French angling, which is they are still too inward looking. More of the younger and hungry French anglers need to follow Didier’s lead and look to learn on a wider platform. Travel and fish abroad, make the contacts and friendships with anglers from across Europe and become INTERNATIONAL anglers... not national ones.
So how can the French sort things out for the future?
Well a couple of practical steps could be taken quite easily. For example the team selection could be opened so that the manager is free to pick anglers outside the division structure. This model seems to work the best for the more successful European teams. Emulate England in this respect, because they have the selection absolutely spot on!

There needs to be a movement towards relaxing bait limits in many more French Federation matches. This would be a fundamental change and difficult to introduce because of the important backing of the groundbait companies. But without this, the French will always struggle on more tactical big fish matches, where managing the feeding of bait becomes vital. Perhaps this could start with 1st and 2nd Division Championships. If these matches were open, in terms of bait, then the élite would progress first and fastest.

More time spent abroad should be encouraged and helped by the management. There is a programme of friendly matches ongoing at the moment, but usually these involve different squads of anglers. This is good for giving some experience of international fishing to a wider group of anglers, but those competing at world level should be encouraged and assisted in travelling to all of these matches so that their experience and 'contacts' base is widened.

Didier Delonnoy with his day one catch of 7.755kgs from E section.Didier Delonnoy with his day one catch of 7.755kgs from E section.Finally, I think we need to let the new management team learn and build for the future. France is a great angling nation and should be in the Top 5 by right. However, match fishing in France feels restrictive and old fashioned so the Federation needs to get to grips with bait limits and change the blinkered groundbait culture if France is to compete for top honours every in World Championships. Didier Delannoy is an example of just how better anglers in France can become, once they are encouraged to gain more experience 'outside the box'. He is now truly a world-class angler, but he achieved this as a result of his own initiative and drive. France needs to be helping more anglers gain this sort of knowledge and experience by creating the opportunity to learn alongside other top anglers from across Europe. This will take hard work and a long-term vision for the future.

Help from the top perhaps?
Perhaps Nicolas Sarkozy would like to help here. I am sure a few million euros of government funding would help train a French team for the future. Just a minute… the phone is ringing...
“Nicolas, it’s you!... ah sorry, I keep forgetting, Monsieur le President ... mmmm... just a few million euros for national pride and excellence... oh……. but you gave it to beach volleyball team... but, but, you only have some spare French football flags and rosettes left for us!!! Gee thanks Nicolas, but I think we’ll try and sort the problems out ourselves…”

Eds Note: There's not much that can be added to David's summary of the current state of French match angling, except to say that any lack of a strong French presence in International Championships is always a major disappointment, as they contain some of the most engaging personalities, not to mention some of the finest minds in international angling. We hope they regain their rightful position amongst the world's elite as swiftly as possible.

I was going to include an overview from Belgium's team manager Roland Marcq, unfortunately Roland's been very busy with the following Veterans and Youth World Championships in Italy, not to mention the sad loss of the FIPSed General Secretary and Treasurer Jackie Dupuis, who passed away on the 11th July. We hope Roland will be able to send us something shortly, which we will then add to this article.