The team fly the flag at the opening ceremony.The team fly the flag at the opening ceremony.

...not only is the preparation intense before and during the event, but also the stresses and strains imposed financially, even on those regular attendees. For those who venture from lands far far away, ‘once in a blue moon’, it must seem like someone’s emptied their bank accounts when money starts to evaporate away!
Look what Matt Sellen's just bought!Look what Matt Sellen's just bought!

But there is something more these championships provide the lesser teams with, than those who are regularly podium bound! No matter how inexperienced a team may be on any particular venue or species, to compete against difficult odds deserves commendable praise and it demands respect from all. One team in particular fits those qualities and needs singling out for their determination and dedication in making these championships… New Zealand.
This was the group photo from 2009 in Almere when the Italian team welcomed the kiwi's for a cheese and wine lunch.This was the group photo from 2009 in Almere when the Italian team welcomed the kiwi's for a cheese and wine lunch.

When the kiwi’s first decided to attend in 2017, after their relatively successful foray to Almere in 2009, where they finished 35th out of 38 teams, beating Norway, Ukraine and arch-rivals Australia, little would they realise that this year the level would substantially be raised. Gone where the opportunities to hit some of the massive bream shoals found in Almere, instead the match proved a roach dominated event, demanding a higher level of technical skill, something the kiwi’s where lacking in with this particular species of fish! In fact, tactically, this match would always be between the top teams and so that proved to be the case. With special groundbait mixes and feeding strategies, the kiwi’s would always be ‘batting on a sticky wicket!’ But did that deter them? Most definitely not!

Ruud (left) with Gary.Ruud (left) with Gary.They set out with a plan with the help from their good friend Ruud de Jong, who was almost local to the venue… well he actually comes from Holland, which is near enough! Ruud tried to make a gameplan for them, based around the use of bloodworm and joker and demonstrated how to mix it in with the special roach groundbaits and leam that would be required to get it to the bottom of the canal, some 5 metres down! Unfortunately the team would always be at some disadvantage, due to the very fact that bloodworm and joker is non-existent back home and it was 8 years since they last set eyes on it! Nevertheless the boys knuckled down in strange surroundings and endeavored to put Ruud’s plan into action.

Some initial success during the practice week gave an element of encouragement, but the acid test would be the weekend. With weather conditions changeable throughout, the weekend exposed the teams’ weaknesses in this form of fishing, but they gave it their best shot, and as one of the team stated, more ventures into this form of fishing will bring further experience and results. But from 10,000 miles away, it may be some time off!

Saturday’s match saw the team finish above South Africa by 2 points, with seasoned campaigners, the Channel Islands, just 6 points ahead. Not too bad, all things considered. Sunday would bring them down to earth, with the teams best individual lying only 2pts above bottom in one of the sections! With the teams around them pulling out better scores on the final day, Team NZ found themselves at the bottom of the rankings.

Overall individually, they had two of the team finish in 161st and 162nd places, with maximum number of anglers fishing both legs being 176. The team, while undoubtedly feeling disappointed after all the effort put in, could at least come away better for the experience and satisfied that they had done their best under difficult circumstances.

I’m well aware of the cost that many teams face in competing in these championships each year, but considering the distance, travelling costs and alien style of fishing in particular, Team NZ must be applauded for the dedication and determination in attending this year. They, like South Africa, have no such fish as roach or bream back home and certainly no canals 5 metres deep! Almere 2009 was the last event they managed to attend, so when you realise that each angler bore a cost in excess of £10,000 each, to get to Belgium, you understand why I consider them all, most creditable competitors. Remember, without minnows, there would be no giants!

Their journey to these championships was helped by numerous people/organisations/companies, which they would like to thank publically. One of their team principals, Matt Sellen, has detailed the following:

“The team would like to thank all the following people who helped us out along the way. In no particular order, All the staff at Billy Clarkes in Sheffield for their help and numerous cups of tea and even a roll at lunchtime on our visit there and to Tom for sorting out a good deal for us on our poles and all the spares. Martelli McKegg and the Stuart Smith Coarse Angling Trust, for the money to buy our uniforms. Sandra Scotthorne and all her staff at Halkon Hunt for doing our uniforms and shirts and again to Sandra for putting us in touch with Julie Abbott. Julie Abbott who gave us a wealth of information and also went out of her way to answer some of the off the cuff questions we put to her. Rive France for giving us a good deal on our seat boxes and other accessories we ordered. Didier Delannoy for organising our bait and groundbait. Redwood Engineering Ltd for sponsoring our Ali seat box knobs. Dave Johnson for writing the articles and taking photos for us and to all the people that helped us along the way and donated prizes for all the raffles we had and also the people who donated money towards the cause. Steve Fitzpatrick for putting us in touch with a few people, donating prizes for a raffle and printing an article for us.

Also a big thank you to Trevor Senior and Ruud de Jong for coming along to help us and acting as groundbait mixers and technical advisors. Alan Johnson for coming over within hours of landing in the UK and bank running over the weekend and helping us scrub and clean all our gear to ship back to New Zealand. And last but not least, to Le Griffon Restaurant, which was just up the road from our accommodation and where we set up residency almost every night we were there and every night was a great meal and company.

The team would also like to say a very special thank you to the following. First to Stuart Stevenson who, as part of the original team in 2009, agreed to come over this time as manager and reserve but, unfortunately, due to ill health felt he couldn't fish at this level competitively. Howard Johns for taking timeout from his holiday in Holland to come down and help Stuart out as second manager and all the work he did for the team that made our lives a bit easier. Finally to Paul Senior for jumping in at the last minute to replace Tony Duff.

Thank you to everyone, from Team New Zealand.

We’d like to give a special mention to Tony Duff, an original member of the team who had to pull out 3 weeks before we flew to Europe. Tony was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently had a major operation whilst we were in Belgium. Tony helped greatly in the fundraising for the trip for 3½ years prior. We all wish Tony a speedy recovery.

Matt’s comments:
My impressions were it was a good venue apart from the mountaineering! I think our lack of experience let us down a bit more than we expected and being a really technical venue, although even with experience I’m not sure if it would have helped as we were sort of following the general tradition that as the week went on we cut down on the feed and upped the leam which, as the Belgians and English proved, was the wrong way to go. It was a really enjoyable experience to be there and participate again and to catch up with friends and make some new ones along the way.

Bio's of Team NZ:

Andy DeamerAndy DeamerAndy Deamer, age 65.
Wellington, NZ.
Retired printer.
Emigrated to NZ in 1978, originally from North London.
Previously fished in the UK for Barnet AC and Catpack.
Enjoy all types of coarse fishing, love fishing the pole.
Don't enjoy breeding maggots for matches as it upsets the neighbours, but none available in shops over here.
Would like to fish more world championships in the future.

Nigel BeadleNigel BeadleNigel Beadle, age 58.
Waiuku (Auckland) NZ.
MEP Project Manager.
Moved to NZ with my kiwi wife 2011.
Originally from West London.
Took up coarse fishing again 5 years ago after working in the Middle East for 6 years.
Previously fished in the Kent Messenger league in the late 90's and was a member of the Epsom Angling Club.
Love all types of coarse fishing, especially pole and feeder fishing.
Don't enjoy having to make up your own groundbait mixes, miss going the local tackle shop and just picking up ready made bags of groundbait.
Would love to fish the world championships again as I learnt so much first time around.

Gary BourneGary BourneGary Bourne, age 53.
Auckland, NZ.
Lived in Bexleyheath UK. Never fished any matches in the UK. I fished in the Darenth valley mainly for the carp, tench and bream, pike in the winter.
Moved to NZ in 1988, bought my first keepnet then and fished my first match with the Auckland Coarse Fishing Club, of which I’m still a member.
Enjoy all aspects of fishing, especially match fishing. Would love another chance to fish a world championship.

Matt SellenMatt SellenMatthew Sellen, age 48.
Moved to Auckland end of 1994 from Romney Marsh in Kent.
Production Engineer (comes in handy for making certain bits of fishing tackle).
Started fishing around 8 or 9, mainly pleasure fished in the UK but did fish a few club matches with Ashford Angling Society for a bit of fun and something different, only really started match fishing in New Zealand.
Achieved what I always thought was impossible, and a dream come true, fished my first World Championship in 2009. Now Belgium and looking forward to doing it again in the future.
Pole and waggler fishing, preferably for bream or any other silvers.

Paul SeniorPaul SeniorPaul Senior, age 65.
Tauranga, NZ.
Retired Engineer.
Started match fishing in Leicester at 21 fishing for Wreak AC.
Transferred to Swindon with work in 1986 and fished for Swindon Talisman until emigrating to NZ in 2004.
Love river and canal fishing. No canals in NZ so miss that type fishing.
Really miss the adrenalin rush of a big match atmosphere, which fishing the World Champs in Belgium brought back. comment: Although the team finished last, they can go away satisfied that they tried their best under difficult circumstances, against the best teams in the world. If they were able financially to attend more of these Championships, then I’m sure their progression up the rankings would improve greatly, not to mention the added pleasure of their company.

We have some videos of the NZ lads and some others, which are currently being uploaded on the 2017 World Champs on our YouTube channel, here's a link: