It's often said that you only get out, what you put in. Well, if that's the case, then a bunch of match angling fanatics from New Zealand returned home from Holland, not with medals, but with dreams accomplished and memories to last a lifetime! For the first time in their angling history, this tiny outcrop, on the edge of existence, produced five guys who made those personal and financial sacrifices the rest of us can only admire from afar. Out of an angling population which runs in the hundreds, not thousands or millions, these dedicated match 'nuts' made a commitment to compete in Holland. What they undertook may probably be beyond most peoples understanding.

Let's face it, we have all made that extra special effort to get up early and travel a few hundred miles to attend an event with our team. But, unlike their seasoned counterparts from South Africa and Australia, these Kiwi's embarked on a journey which effectively took four years to conceive and accomplish. With little in the way of outside help, they extended their personal credit lines in various ways to afford the trip, not in a half-cocked manner or on the cheap, far from it. They wanted to ensure that they would participate at an acceptable level, logistics aside, against the world's best and bring attention to their small angling nation... and that they certainly did.

Although there are only about 200 registered members within the New Zealand Federation of Coarse Anglers, our intrepid yet determined band of angling brothers, began the lengthy process of registering with CIPS/FIPS in order to participate. The expense and protracted document chase was all down to them, not their Federation, who's finances did not run that far.

In the early days
Let's face it, you don't come to one of these World 'knock-ups' without the necessary dosh, wonga or cash backing!!! But wishing to come, then actually getting there, are as far apart as Holland is from NZ. The planning took many months after the initial question “do you fancy going then?”, first surfaced. Finding five angling 'junkies' to attend didn't seem too much of a issue, as they waited for their flight back home after attending an inter-country match with near neighbours Australia in 2005. This small group chewed over the possibilities of coming to their first ever world event, obviously spurred on by tales from their Aussie neighbours. The main issue was whether they were 'mad' enough to run up a mountain of debt to get there. It was then that the whole process started to materialise, yet their path would not be an easy one.

Now you may have been wondering up to this point what, if any, has coarse angling got to do with New Zealand? Well it may surprise you to know that they have a few well-known European species swimming around in their lakes and rivers, so they are not totally devoid of specie knowledge. Tench for one is a well established fish, having been introduced from Tasmania many years previous. Plenty of perch, rudd, koi carp, goldfish, catfish and eels, all bring a European flavour to the sport in a land not generally recognised as 'coarse' orientated. (Note: the eels run to 20lb!!!!). Nevertheless, there is a die-hard core of match men present there, equal in spirit to those in the northern hemisphere.

The trail begins
Having sorted the paperwork out by 2008, there remained the small problem of venue doubt. This was down to the original venue's apparent lack of fish! Over the 2008 Christmas period there were rumours and counter-rumours which threw into question whether Holland would be actually hosting the 2009 World Champs. This created major problems for the Kiwi's as they had spent 3 years in the planning stage for the trip to Holland, a relatively easy destination for them. Anywhere else would seriously undermine the whole concept of competing, as any of the other rumoured venues could produce serious travel problems to a team already stretched to a logistic breaking point.

Finally sorted
Fortunately, everything was sorted out to everyone's satisfaction and the guys could get down to the real nitty gritty of booking flights, sorting tackle, bait and accommodation etc, etc. There was also the problem of knowing of how to fish! Not as silly a problem as you might expect. There is no such thing as bloodworm and joker, or even groundbait in New Zealand, let alone the knowledge of how to use it! Even maggots are not available, you have to breed your own! Further issues remain regarding the use of soils and leams... the list seemed endless and would probably have made lesser-inspired mortals to give up. To solving these problems can claim some credit, as our various features on such matters greatly helped the teams knowledge-base.

But who were these nameless prospective competitors from a distant shore? All ex-pats, they have been in New Zealand for various periods of time. The 'baby' of the group is Stuart Stevenson, with just 4 years on the clock. Then we have Matt Sellen, Dave Dixon, Gary Bourne and Andy Deamer, all clocking up between 10 to 30 years service. These were the die-hards ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Not long to go
As the countdown to September continued, things gradually started to come together. The beginning of August saw Matt arrive in England. This would be the teams supply and staging post for the short hop to Holland. Matt would prepare the initial logistics of tackle and bait requirements, prior to the remainder of the teams' arrival. Most had family still in England so there was much to do on the 're-united' front. Fortunately, a stroke of luck saw Andy's brother supply a suitable size van for the lads transportation to Almere, a substantial cost saving for which they were most grateful. Another major help was from Mike Stone and the tackle he supplied at trade price, which again the lads were highly grateful for. There was still one more added bonus about to descend on them. As their participation had been noted in the organisers literature, one of the team, Andy, received an email from Dutch seat manufacturer, Heledrin, offering them the use of their product for the duration. Considering the expense of possibly having to transport, or even buy their boxes here in England, this offer did indeed add a silver-lining to their trip. This most generous gesture had also been extended to the Australian squad and Heledrin must be highly praised for helping both these teams out.

With the rest of the team arriving by the 21st August, the whole group eventually set off across the Channel on the 26th. Their adventure was now entering unknown territory, especially having to drive on the wrong side of the road! There would also be other things to take in, many of them alien to what they experienced back home. They needn't have worried, they would be looked after during their visit.

A special meeting!
One of the most memorable events encountered during the run up to the competition weekend was when I caught up with the lads in their practice box in D section during Tuesday's training. Next door were my good friends from Italy who, after the end of the first practice session, invited the guys over for some lunchtime cheese and wine. Seeing one of the 'giants of angling' welcoming one of it's minnows, has to remain the image that epitomises the camaraderie that exists at this level. I'm sure this particular meeting will be one which remains with the Kiwis for the rest of their angling lives.

The measure(s) of success
The rest of the practice week ran its course and the first day of competition approached, but there was a major problem developing... that of bait quantities! The normal NZ match day experience was turning up with whatever bait you wanted to use... but not here! Strict rules govern the amount any angler can use and special bait measures are advertised by FIPSed as available to those without such means. Having requested these vital containers beforehand, the team arrived at the tented village for Saturdays captain's meeting still without! An approaching disaster threatened, for without these containers, yellow cards would be spread across the team like confetti! It was the Welsh team boss, and one of FIPSs' officials, Eric Humphreys, who's ultimate and timely intervention saved the day and the appropriate vessels were eventually distributed to each member of the team as they where setting up within their sectors. I believe there was about 10 minutes to spare before the bait officials arrived!!! That was fortunate because with just one vehicle between the whole team, the logistics of reaching everyone in time was not possible, across a venue which spanned several kilometres.

Saturday match got underway the Kiwi's faced a tough battle on unfamiliar turf. As (probably) expected their first day proved something of a disaster. With two finishing bottom in their sectors and another just off bottom, there were only two notable glimmers of hope in the points table. Matt Sellen and Andy Deamer registering a respective 8 and 7 points from their B and C sectors. Even so, the team still found themselves propping up the rest of the nations attending. No doubt they were wondering what day two would throw at them!

What an achievement
As Sunday's match progressed it looked as though some of the lads were really taking the event even more serious by producing some notable performances. Worth a mention at the best of times, is anyone who can outpace a top-notch rod in their sector. This was spectacularly achieved by Andy Deamer in Sector E1 when he not only took the scalps of Italian ace Gianluigi Sorti, Serbia's Goran Radovic and England's master craftsman Steve Gardener, but secured a superb 4th sector place in the process. Remarkable for someone so out-of-touch with current European angling trends. More followed. Dave Dixon had Frances' Stephane Pottelet behind him when he registered a 7th in sector A1 and Gary Bourne, can sit at home in front of the fire knowing that he had 5x World Champion Alan Scotthorne one place behind him in sector D2. Even lowly placed Matt Sellen in C3 can claim success with Italian Stefano Defendi bringing up his rear. Now there's biting the hand that feeds you!!!

But undoubtedly the 'icing on the cake' of the whole trip, was the teams final position in the rankings... 35 out of 38. The cherry on it was that Australia where behind them (apologises to the Aussie's for that one!). On a scale of 1 to 10, that performance would probably earn them 20!

This is always a major factor and not just confined to these 'new kids on the block'. The Australians find the expense of attending, a major back-breaker, as do the South Africans. I an also aware that the Russians mounted up a massive bill, but this was offset slightly by their governing bodies assistance. In £££ terms, the amount outlaid by these teams runs into several thousands each, sometimes approaching double figures! What all these teams lack is sponsorship, something many of the top teams don't suffer too badly from. Manufacturers and governing bodies can play a major role in supporting teams like this, for without their help many will ultimately fall away and a world event will reduce to one which is only affordable to those with deeper pockets and contacts!

Will the Kiwi's be back?
The short answer is YES, but only when they have recuperated their financial 'wind'. They are VERY serious about that!

Footnote: The team thanks Air New Zealand for extending the teams baggage and weight allowance on their journey to and from Europe. One other special person worthy of the team's praise, was Andy Deamer's daughter Clare, who made the trip from Germany to attend and become the team manager and bank runner.

Dave Johnson,