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.
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.
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.
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
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
Jersey - Jersey Croquet Club
Luxembourg - EIB Cercle Croquet Club
Netherlands - Nederlandse Croquet Bond (no current contact)
Norway - Norges Croquetforbund
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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