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Dragons Come to Antwerp

18 September 2011
The first Port of Antwerp Dragon Boat festival took place on 10 September with 44 teams from local businesses, clubs, neighborhood associations, cafes and schools.

Port of Antwerp Dragonboatfestival

The weather was perfect at the Kattendijkdok where the festival took place near the center of Antwerp, and the festivities were opened by the Honorable Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Mr. Tsang reflected on the cultural and business ties between the two port cities and welcomed paddlers to come to Hong Kong where the IDBF World Club Crew Championship will be taking place in July 2012.

Belgium was one of the founding members of the EDBF back in 1990, but has not been active in the sport for the past several years, so it was nice to welcome Belgium back to the world of dragon boat racing. But it wouldn´t have been possible to stage such an event without plenty of sponsors and the hard work of the Rotary Club Antwerpen-West and Rotary Cofra, who organized the event, recruited teams, arranged facilities and publicity, and provided a wonderful crew of helpful, friendly volunteers to keep things running smoothly and safely.

Peter Joos, chairman of the Rotary Club Antwerp-West, said this year´s festival is just a small start to something big for Belgium and promises next year´s festival will have even more teams and activities. Proceeds from the festival will go towards restoring the three-master ship the Belgica, which will eventually be berthed nearby.

The festival also signals the re-birth of racing teams in Belgium, as KookeenY (pronounced like coke-n-aai), a group of sports fanatics stemming from a management training business of the same name (and first place winner of the mixed team races), purchased a dragon boat and is hard at work training for other European races. Hopefully we will see them on the European scene soon!

For more information on the festival, visit their website: www.antwerpdragons.com.

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