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New flag signals growth
and unity of the sport in Europe

by Kevin Garrad
Secretary-General, Fédération Européenne de Croquet
photos courtesy of Kevin Garrad and Shereen Hayes
Posted December 19, 2009

Related Links
World Croquet Federation Website
The Sport Takes Root in Germany
Croquet in Norway
The Flag Institute


Until late in the 20th Century, the organized sport of croquet was mostly the province of the English-speaking countries. The formation of the World Croquet Federation in the 1980's promised a broader outlook for the sport. By the 1990s, croquet was being played in most European countries - on a scale much smaller than in Mother England, but sufficient to show that from those small roots croquet can flourish in many tongues.

The logo of the Fédération Européenne de Croquet
The European Croquet Federation, or Fédération Européenne de Croquet as it is more properly known, was formed back in 1993 not as a governing body, but simply to encourage the playing of croquet among the countries of mainland Europe. The idea was to give European croquet clubs and players, and interested Europeans in any country, somewhere to go for help and advice. The purpose was not to replace the role of the World Croquet Federation, but to provide easy, on-the-ground access to organized local groups that could help, advise, and instruct in languages other than English.

Right from the start, the organizers wanted to produce a European Championship, to which each member country would be able to send a player. The lesser countries (from a croquet perspective) would therefore gain much-needed experience from competing against more seasoned players.

Kevin Garrad competes in the annual European Championship on the island of Jersey, refereed by Cliff Jones of Wales.
The obvious candidates for membership were approached – England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, France, Switzerland, Guernsey – and an inaugural European Championship was played in Busto Arsizio, Italy (near Milan) on September 24th – 26th 1993. Stephen Mulliner of England was the first winner, beating John Evans (Wales) in the final. The European Championship has since taken place every year in September. After Milan, it was played at Southwick (England) and Carrickmines (Ireland) before settling into the current every-year venue in Jersey. Stephen Mulliner, one of the world's top-ranked players and now the President of the FEC, has won the European championship 11 of the 17 times it has been played.

There is no direct connection between the FEC and the WCF, and neither is there any connection to the government of the European Union. No grants are received by the FEC from any other bodies. Only the national organizations are members of the Federation, all the officers are volunteers, and the small bills generated are paid by tournament fees.

Peter Payne, of Switzerland, was the driving force in the early years, and it was some time before I was persuaded to join the FEC Management Committee. Eventually I became the Secretary-General, a position I hold to this day. Some ask where the headquarters of the FEC is based. Quite simply, it’s in a single room of my house in the Netherlands! (Previously it was based at Peter Payne’s address in Switzerland.)

Creating the Flag from the logo

Since childhood, I have always had an interest in flags, their design and symbolism. When I discovered The Flag Institute a couple of years ago and realised that membership would only cost me £25 per year, I joined up.

The USCA flag flying over the National Croquet Center in South Florida may be flown from Canada to Patagonia, above any croquet club in the Americas choosing to join the American association.

So when the FEC Management Committee decided that it would be a good idea to have a flag to be flown at European croquet tournaments, I was the obvious choice to produce a design. Taking the existing logo as a starting point, I removed the lettering (wording on flags is always a bad idea, as it cannot be read when the flag is at rest!), and extended the round logo to a standard flag shape. The blue and gold colours reflect those of the European Union flag.

The flag of the European Union. The new flag of
the European Croquet Federation.

Limiting the number of stars to six on the FEC flag keeps the design simple, but the resemblance to the European Union flag still comes across.

National organizations take root throughout Europe

Most of the 21 member countries of the Federation have their own annual Open national championship, with regular play at local clubs mostly during the May-through-September season. Belgium has perhaps the most unusual annual event: the Belgian Indoor Croquet Championship, each January, played on two reduced courts in Brussels at Le Chateau du Lac, in the hotel's Conference Centre large function room. The treacherous speed of the carpet tiles make the courts just as challenging as full-sized ones.

In addition, inter-country competition played out in team events keep the fires of local pride burning, with a nationalist edge. Here's the list of member countries and contacts (also available on the WCF website), with a reference to either the website or an email contact.

Austria - Österreichischer Croquetclub

Belgium - Croquet Federation of Belgium

Czech Republic - Asociace Ceskomoravského kroketu

Denmark - Danske Gymnastikk- & Idrætsforeninger, Krocketudvalget

England - The Croquet Association

Finland - Suomen Krokettiliitto

France - Croquet Club Bayeusain

Germany - Deutscher Krocket Bund

Guernsey - Guernsey Croquet Club (no current contact)

Ireland - Croquet Association of Ireland

Isle of Man - Isle of Man Croquet Association

Italy - Federazione Italiana Sport Croquet

Jersey - Jersey Croquet Club

Luxembourg - EIB Cercle Croquet Club

Netherlands - Nederlandse Croquet Bond (no current contact)

Norway - Norges Croquetforbund

Russia - Interregional Croquet Federation of Russia

Scotland - Scottish Croquet Association

Spain - Asociación Española de Croquet

Sweden - Svenska Croquet Förbundet

Switzerland - Association Suisse de Croquet

Wales - Welsh Croquet Association

Kevin Garrad started his croquet life in his local club, just outside Bristol, England--Nailsea & District Croquet Club. Due to the vagaries of his job as an IT Consultant, he moved to the Isle of Man back in 1994, and very quickly found the local croquet clubs. Kevin became coach and secretary of the Isle of Man Croquet Association and, wanted to promote croquet as more of a sport than a social activity, persuaded the Isle of Man Association to join the FEC. By 1997 he found himself in the Netherlands working as an IT at a large Dutch Life Assurance company, and still lives in Utrecht. Kevin Garrad continues to represented his adopted country, the Isle of Man, at World and European Championships in both Association and Golf Croquet. He invites contact at the email address K.Garrad@telfort.nl


 
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