Already long ago Gerard dreamt of buying a farm and set it up optimally for homing pigeons. For many years he searched for such a hidden treasure in the near surroundings of Nieuw Amsterdam and than, in the middle Nineties, he found what he was looking for. Not far from his home base a small farm was purchased in the hamlet Ermerveen. After two years of hard labour almost all was adjusted to the wishes of the master and the new pigeon lofts were integrated perfectly. Like this a picturesque place arose for Gerard.
In 1996 he moved in to his new domicile and the pigeons moved with him from Nieuw Amsterdam to Ermerveen. First the racers and later, one by one, the breeders too.
The start of a new, but not a less successful period!
There was no stopping Gerard, one crack was born after another in Ermerveen. No other loft had dominated Dutch pigeon racing in such a way ever before; a supremacy like this seemed to be impossible! The time had come for big sieges on the one day long distance races. In the meanwhile this discipline was reserved for the NPO races and the partnership decided to specialize on these races above all. Some of the fabulous winners in this period we would like to introduce:
‘Kleine Dirk’ NL98-5821416, a phenomenon that has an own chapter in the Koopman story!
‘Mister Ermerveen’ NL98-5821470, 1. National acebird in 2000 and Olympiad bird in Capetown 2001. He won a/o 1. Chimay against 10,000 birds; 1. Reims against 768 birds; 3. Hasselt against 4,422 birds; 3. Chimay against 1,828 birds. ‘Mister Ermerveen’ is a half brother to ‘Kleine Dirk’ and grandson to ‘Beatrixdoffer’. His father is ‘Noble Blue’, a son to ‘Beatrixdoffer’.
‘Judy’ NL98-5821399, a daughter to ‘Gentil’ x ‘Golden Lady’, a full sister to ‘Kleine Dirk’. She is mother to the Olympiad bird Lievin 2003 ‘Ermerveens Hope’.
‘Yi Min’ NL98-5821450, also a full sister to ‘Kleine Dirk’. She won a/o 5. Hasselt against 2,668 birds and 16. Boxtel against 3,966 birds. She is mother to the amazing ‘Amoré’.
‘Yi Min’ as well as ‘Judy’ only had a very short racing career as Gerard knew with them he had something very special on his lofts.
‘Wonder Lady’ NL99-5971339, a daughter to the famous ‘Zebran’. She won a/o 1. National Orléans against 5,163 birds with a 30 minutes lead.
‘Annelies’ NL99-5971341, Full sister to ‘Kleine Dirk’. She won a/o 1. Chimay (345 km) against 15,438 birds, 2. Troyes (530 km) against 13,137 birds; 2. Chimay against 10,000 birds; 5. Hasselt (225 km) against 4,052 birds; 8. Hasselt against 2,668 birds.
‘Miss Ermerveen’ NL99-5971353, a full sister to ‘Mister Ermerveen’. She won 1. prize on the National NPO race from Troyes against 13,137 birds.
‘Vita’ NL00-5063918, she was 1. Olympiad bird long distance 2003 in Lievin and won a/o 3. Orléans against 5,167 birds; 4. Ablis against 1,593 birds; 10. Bergerac (1000 km) against 2,207 birds. ‘Vita’ is a grandchild to the famous ‘Zebran’, who also bred ‘Lei’ (2. NPO against 7,155 birds) and ‘Wonder Lady’ (1. Orléans against 5,163 birds - 30 min. lead).
‘Ermerveens Hope’ NL00-4728193, Olympiad birds (allround) in Lievin 2003. He won a/o 1. National Orléans against 9,188 birds; 1. Boxtel against 2,397 birds; 2. NPO Ablis against 13,020 birds; 2. Hannut against 4,393 birds; 4. Chimay against 1,000 birds; 6. Chimay against 4,149 birds. Her father is ‘Jonker Doffer’ NL-97-2145445, and her mother is ‘Judy’, a sister to ‘Kleine Dirk’.
‘Amoré’ NL00-5063949, Olympiad bird (long distance) 2003 in Lievin and 1. National acebird in one day long distance racing 2002. She won a/o 5. Chimay against 4,149 birds; 6. NPO Ablis against 13,022 birds; 14. NPO Orléans against 10,825 birds; 18. NPO Sourdun against 13,022 birds. She was bred from ‘Black Power’ x ‘Yi Min’ (Sister ‘Kleine Dirk’).
The modern performance bird
When he did not exist yet, he had to be invented. Who? ‘Kleine Dirk’ NL98-5821416 of course! He is the prototype of the modern performance pigeon for one day long distance races. He is a rather small type of pigeon with an intelligent look, feathers soft like silk and a character that goes to the edge! He founded a breed of pigeons that was never seen before, serial winner in one day long distance racing. His descendants are responsible for performances that were considered impossible ever before. On the 100-800 km races they always start as favourites and only very seldom they do not fulfil this status. With several hens ‘Kleine Dirk’ produced top class and not selling him was probably the best decision Gerard ever made.
In racing ‘Kleine Dirk’ was an exceptional performer! Next to many 1. prizes, he added 2 National (NPO) victories to his account. The 1. National Troyes (530 km) against almost 18,000 birds and 1. National Bourges (700 km) against over 7,000 birds in combine! Harm Vredeveld in person saw ‘Kleine Dirk as a youngster and said: “Gerard, this small cock makes you a millionaire!” A bit exaggerated at the time, but …
‘Kleine Dirk’ started a new era for the Koopman lofts. Before their pigeons mainly dominated on the short and middle distance races, now Gerard wanted to win the big NPO classics! He wanted to compete with only the very best, to cross the finish line first in a field of champions … that was the new goal! In the meanwhile children, grandchildren and great grandchildren became founding pigeons of many lofts worldwide. An uncountable number of winners have these bloodlines running through their veins and indeed, saying that ‘Kleine Dirk’ wrote history is not one word too much.
After the first phenomenal years in Ermerveen things got a bit calmer around the Koopman colony. Private problems, an ended marriage; it forced Gerard to have a mental break. The necessary motivation was gone. However the results in these years were above average, the year 2003 can be called the turning point. Ups and downs came and went.
But than, in the season 2004, the glorious comeback came! Only a few absolute specialists with his top class are capable of revenging in such a way. A quote from a loft report in the German expertsmagizine ‘Brieftaubensport International“:
“The first remarkable fact came from the hand of ‘Adara’, with a 1. prize on the race from Wychen -129 km- against 12,046 birds. This yearling hen furthermore won 18. Sourdun against 13,426 birds and 7. Ablis against 10,609 birds. This ‘Adara’ NL03-5343054, is a daughter to ‘Mister Ermerveen’ NL98-5821470, Olympiad bird South-Africa winning a/o 1. Chimay against 10,000 birds. He is a son to ‘Noble Blue’, half brother to ‘Kleine Dirk’. The mother to ‘Adara’ is ‘Young Dream’ NL00-5063909, a top prize winner with a/o 9. Orléans, 15. Ablis, 20. Boxtel and 27. Etampes against an average of 11,755 birds. ‘Young Dream’ was bred from ‘Kleine Dirk’ x ‘Lei’, a sister to ‘Wonder Lady’.
The First NPO race on May 22nd became a true Koopman carnival. From Sourdun they had to leave victory to the Leideman brothers, but with 10 pigeons in the top 12 of the NPO result it can certainly be called phenomenal. In Fed. a total of 1,337 birds were basketed and 58 of 73 basketed Koopman pigeons won prize cards, with 44 on page 1 of the list!
Than another weekend that will be talk of the pigeon world for a long time. Gerard had basketed one or 2 pigeons earlier and now he did on the First overnight race, Ruffec, a Northern section race. The pigeons were liberated June 4th at 2.00 pm and with a hard headwind blowing it was bound to be a tough race. However, ‘Miss Waalre’ NL00-1211188 was not impressed and after winning 12. Nat. Bergerac 2002 against 3,232 birds she was self confidence enough to perform well. The next morning Gerard clocked her 10:39:27 a.m. with a velocity of 1042,360 Meters/Minute. She beat all other 2,706 competitors. When Gerard called to say he had a pigeon, he knew she was an ‘early’ bird but the thought of winning the Section race did not cross his mind yet. Too many specialists with a further distance had chances to win. But when the first congratulations came in, he finally realised this meant a great victory.
That this was going to be a legendary weekend could not be expected at that time yet. 9.00 a.m. 10,609 athletes were liberated for the second National one day long distance NPO race from Ablis. 5.18:29 p.m. exactly ‘Deng Lin`s Favorit’ NL03-5343024 reached its home base and made it a perfect day by also grabbing victory! But things got better. 21 seconds later the NL03-5343056 made it a double victory! Again a supreme demonstration of the Koopman pigeons. 1. and 2. place and 8 pigeons in the top 12. Truly phenomenal. The winners on this memorable day deserve further introduction.
‘Miss Waalre’, a four years old hen that already won 12. prize on Bergerac (993 km) in 2002 against 3,232 birds comes from overnight pigeons of noble bloodlines through Jan Hermans. In her pedigree we find great names like ‘Half brother Beatrix’, ‘Donkeroogske 47’, ‘Inteelt Klamper’ (Cor de Heyde) and ‘Sister Rikky’ (Jan Theelen). A busy girl, this ‘Miss Waalre’ because a week after her victory she was entered for a middle distance race and won 45. prize against 1,630 birds and on the day of our visit she was already on her way to St. Vincent (approx. 1200 km). “Rest rusts,” sais Gerard, “she asked to be basketed again.”
The Ablis winner ‘Deng Lin’s Favorit’ is a cross of two new acquisitions. Father is ‘Kleine Engels’ B01-6153573, a son to the brother of 1. and 2. prov. Argenton (yearlings) of Flor Engels, who was paired to ‘Miss Putte’, a daughter of ‘Napoli’ x ‘Donker Pancho’ of VanHove-Uytterhoeven. This yearling top cock also won 8. Sourdun against 13,426 birds and 30. Houdeng against 31,647 birds this year. Probably a crack! The nearly beaten 2. prize winner NL03-5343056 is half sister to ‘Mister Ermerveen’ (1. National acebird middle distance 2000). She also has ‘Noble Blue’ – half brother to founding father ‘Kleine Dirk’ as father. Father to ‘Noble Blue’ is ‘Beatrixdoffer’, who also bred ‘NL959’ super breeder of Günter Prange and is a brother to the World famous ‘Zitter’. At the time the ‘Beatrixdoffer’ was paired to ‘Golden Lady’, mother of ‘Kleine Dirk’. The mother of ‘056’ is ‘Amore’, Olympiad bird and 1. National acebird one day long distance 2002. She is bred from ‘Black Power’ x ‘Yi Min’.
Than there is ‘Gerards Favorit’ NL03-5343028, a yearling hen with so far already the following performances: 5. St. Ghislain against 13,574 birds; 9. Sourdun against 13,426 birds; 18. St. Ghislain against 2,046 birds; 4. Ablis against 10,608 birds; 71. Boxtel against 5,892 birds, 72. Maaseik against 5,388 birds. Her father is ‘De Lorris’, 1. NPO Lorris against 5,256 birds. Mother is ‘Annelies’, 1. Chimay against 15,438 birds; 2. Troyes against 13,137 birds; 2. Chimay against 10,000 birds; 3. Rethel against 1,318 birds; 5. Hasselt against 4,052 birds and 8. Hasselt against 2,668 birds. ‘Annelies’ is bred from Olympiad bird ‘Gentil’ x ‘Golden Lady’ (parents to ‘Kleine Dirk’).
Another yearling cock with great potential is NL03-5342998, with 5. Sourdun against 13,426 birds and 10. Ablis against 10,609 birds. He is bred from a son to ‘Kleine Dirk’ x ‘Miss Ermerveen’. His mother is a daughter to ‘Fiera’ (brother ‘Kleine Dirk’), who was placed on the breeding loft because of superb racing skills. He won a/o 1. Troyes against 17,883 birds; 1. Bourges against 7,155 birds; 2. Lommel against 3,612 birds; 4. Boxtel against 10,093 birds and 6. Chimay against 16,309 birds. ‘Fiera’ was paired to ‘Amira’.
St. Vincent, June 19th 2004 at 07.19 a.m … the Northern parts of The Netherlands goes crazy, the sensation in complete! Covering almost 1,200 km Koopman clocked ‘Miss Waalre’! With a velocity of over 1,500 Meters/Minute it is the 1. prize in Northern section and the fastest pigeon of sections North – East – West with together 15,122 birds! In the entire country only 4 pigeons in the Southern section were faster then ‘Miss Waalre’! Two victories like these with the same pigeon within 14 days had never been seen before and were impossible! The ‘Koopmans’ did it again, they realised the impossible!” So far the quote from ‘Brieftaubensport International’.
Car winner on Le Mans!
It was the first big National clash in one day long distance racing with a birdage of over 120,000! The double victory went to Kees Bosua, but 3rd prize of the entire convoy was secured by Team Koopman. Their yearling cock ‘Magic Man’ NL04-5430805 had to cross an extra 175 km then the winners. In the Northern section, against 15,252 birds, it was enough for the great triumph with as jackpot; a brand new car. Also 12th and 13th prize went to Ermerveen and with that Koopman clocked the fastest series of 3 pigeons.
The 2004 season was getting acquainted with a series of victories again. Despite that joyful fact Gerard showed clear signs of fatigue. He lost real pleasure in pigeons and all he had to do to race top was just too much for him. He doubted if professional pigeon sport was his future. In the meanwhile much changed. Gerard about it:
“Yes, absolutely … I found back the joy in my life again. I got a hold of myself once more. I wake up looking out for a new day and in the evening I no longer search diversion in the night life. I go to bed around 10. Five year long when it was April I thought: I wish it was September already. Of course my private life caused that feeling. A new partner, a steady life, the boys that help me and now all is good again! That is the main thing, I feel like reborn!
At the time, short after I divorced from my wife, nothing went according to plan and I got dragged into situations I avoid now. The factor of success has been important in this, I earn my living with pigeons and here in Ermerveen I created circumstances that also bring several costs. It all became too much than. I was all alone and it was just too much work for one person. The victories made my worries a bit less of course, and the financial success followed my performances in pigeon racing. Now an entirely new Gerard sits at this table. I have many plans, love my hobby that I turned into my profession and I enjoy. I experience my life as a privilege now!
And so 2007 became a memorable year. The performances in overnight racing also staid at the highest level; they even improved! A new loft for the overnight racers was build, a loft where experiences of over 80 years of pigeon experience is interwoven, a true monument. Hereby some highlight from the year:
‘Miss Maniwan’ NL05-1936560. This National and International winner from over 26,000 birds from St. Vincent is a granddaughter to phenomenal ‘Miss Waalre’. Paired to ‘Den Dromer’ of De Rauw-Sablon she bred ‘Milko’ NL04-1389353, that was paired to ‘Miss Nelly’ NL03-0371436 of Hermans-Hoekstra and gave ‘Miss Maniwan’. The father of ‘Miss Nelly’, the ‘Barcelona 85’ winner of a/o 65. Marseille 8.730 birds and 169. Barcelona 7,567 birds. Never before a pigeon was proclaimed fastest pigeon of the entire nation from St. Vincent on such a distance!
‘Miss Jaidi’ NL05-1937063.That is the second top prize winner from St. Vincent. She descends from a sister to ‘Miss Waalre’, the ‘Soraya’. The father to ‘Mr. Vagabond’ NL01-0175799 of Hermans-Hoekstra comes from the ‘Klamper’ lines of Cor de Heijde. On this memorable St. Vincent ‘Miss Jaidi’ won 8. prize from the entire race. 7 of 9 basketed pigeons won prize cards.
‘Doran’ NL05-5533117,NPO winner against 9,670 birds on the race from Orléans Saran. Before he won a/o 21./13,008 b.; 58/5737 b.; 159/15431 b.; 118/10,512 b. His father is ‘Mr. Expensive’, a full brother to ‘Den Dromer’ of De Rauw-Sablon. The mother of ‘Doran’ is a pure Koopman pigeon via Marijke Vink, the ‘Marijke’ NL04-2031628, she is a daughter to ‘Aladin’ from ‘Kleine Dirk’ with ‘Farah Diba’ from ‘Tips’ x ‘Geschelpt Kannibaaltje’.
‘Zina’ NL06-1597157 She won the 2. prize on the NPO race from Chantilly against 13,008 birds and 9. NPO from Orléans against 8,670 birds. Her parents are: father ‘Deng Lin’s Favourit’ NL03-5343024 with a/o 1. Ablis against 10,609 b., 8. Sourdun against 13,426 b., 30. Houdeng against 31,647 b., 18. Morlincourt against 2,228 b., and 125. St. Ghislain against 13,574 b.; mother ‘Annelies’ NL99-5971341. Classifications of ‘Annelies’: 1. Chimay against 15,438 b.; 2. Troyes against 13,174 b.; 2. Chimay against 10,001 b.; 5. Hasselt against 4,052 b. and 3. Rethel against 1,318 b.
For ‘Zina’ this resulted in the title 2. National acebird one day long distance 2007.
The 2008 season:
This season was again crowned with a whole bunch of outstanding results:
‘Daydream’ NL07-5724626. This lovely checker hen won 1. prize on the NPO race Ablis against 8,519 birds! She added a/o 70. Chantilly against 12,742 birds and 101. Morlincourt against 12,480 birds! ‘Daydream’ is daughter to ‘Cassius’ NL02-2373002, an inbred product to ‘Kleine Dirk’ with ‘Annelies’. The mother to ‘Daydream’ is ‘Miss Mookhoek’, NL04-2031763, from the basic pair Marijke Vink (‘Tips’ x ‘Geschelpt Kannibaaltje’).
‘Abelle’ NL06-1597330 did supreme winning the 2. prize on the NPO race from Chantilly against 12,742 birds. Before she had already won 17. Orléans against 9,670 birds, 1. Duffel against 410 birds, 22. Duffel against 7,061 birds and 107. Pommeroeul against 11,716 birds. The father to ‘Abelle’ is ‘Malcolm’, a son to ‘Ermerveen’s Hope’ with ‘Young Dream’, a super racing and breeding hen from ‘Kleine Dirk’ x ‘Lei’. Mother to ‘Abelle’ is ‘Hebberecht 941’ B05-4391941.