The Brussels MannekenFish is a water polo team, established in 2012 within Brussels Gay Sports (BGS), and they have just welcomed a shoal of new motivated recruits.
Dozens of LGBTQI+ aspiring water polo players just completed the annual 3-week-long boot camp and consolidated the MannekenFish Water Polo Team.
Participating in the boot camp does not require any pre-existing knowledge or experience playing water polo. All that is required are good swimming skills, feeling confident in the water, and a desire to participate in a collective sport.
Carlos, one of the boot campers, says:
“I have never EVER played water polo! Being born on the warm and sunny Pacific Coast though, I have been swimming all my life, granted always for fun and to relax. So, in my mind, there was always the desire to start doing something more serious, a water sport.”
Most of the participants, like Carlos, had never played water polo or even touched a water polo ball before getting started! For three weeks, “boot campers” were initiated to water polo and taken through the basics, with each session more intensive than the previous. Feedback was provided on an individual basis and the coaches took the time to teach and accompany the recruits both inside and outside the water. Training consists of warm-ups in the water, followed by practical and tactical exercises, and a friendly game at the end. With three coaches looking after all the swimmers in the pool, instructions were communicated clearly, and all sessions took place in a safe environment.
“The training is physically exhausting and sometimes rough, as this sport demands both speed and endurance. However, this only makes the satisfaction of finishing every training session even bigger and sweeter. I felt like I won a battle each time I got out of the swimming pool (alive) with a better understanding of myself, my body, and my limitations. I can also guarantee you: it does get better every time. As the training sessions passed, despite my limitations, I felt stronger and more confident in my abilities, I felt growth. The keywords here are perseverance and dedication!” -Carlos
The MannekenFish are also known as the "gay" water polo team of Brussels, though this name does no justice to the diversity at play in the group. They are a hetero-friendly LGBTQI+ water polo team and make it a point of honour to place diversity and inclusion at the very forefront of all team activities, training, or social gatherings.
“Once I set a step at the swimming pool, I was struck with a colourful and mega-diverse group: people from every corner of Europe and beyond; men, women, and many other identities, all gathered by their common interest in this sport. The door of this club it´s open and everybody here is more than welcome!” –Carlos
The point is that while it might be difficult or long until you join the Mannekenfish team due to a long waiting list, we hear it will be even harder to leave its banter, atmosphere, and comradery behind once you’ve become a member of the team.
“On top of that, if the satisfaction of surviving (yes, I chose this word) wasn't enough, the team always goes to have some drinks and socialize after training. You see, when you are sharing the table with such a multicultural diverse group, stories will always flow, and you will be delighted with a good vibe that matches the taste of a delicious Belgian beer. Whether you only want to have a small taste of this wonderful sport or decide to move on to the bigger challenge of joining the club, it´s another matter. Both are equally great possibilities.” -Carlos
Do you want to get to know the boot campers and join the rest of the team? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and register for the next boot camp!
From 11 to 13 July 2019, the Brussels Mannekenfish participated in Eurogames Rome winning the bronze medal in the waterpolo competitive competition.
Out of the 12 teams taking part in the competition, the Mannekenfish won their three first games against two teams from London and Paris Aquahomo finishing first of their group. They were then to meet another London team in semi-final, conceding a defeat. The following day the Mannekenfish were to meet again Paris Aquahomo for the little final. A final victory brought a new bronze medal to the team, concluding the seventh season of the Brussels Mannekenfish with a win!
From the 25th till 28th June 2019, the Brussels Mannekenfish participated to the IGLA world tournament in New York city winning the gold medal in the recreational tournament. Following the competition, the team celebrated the world pride commemorating the 50 years anniversary of the Stonewall riots by marching in the parade.
IGLA 2019 tournament
The Brussels Mannekenfish were competing in the recreational tournament in which 15 teams from all around the world were participating. The team started by winning its two first games against San Francisco Tsunami (5-4) and Making Waves Edmonton (12-5). These two victories opened the way to the 8th finals were the team met the London Orcas. After two quarters of close game, the Mannekenfish took the advantage at the begining of the third quarter leading to a victory 12-6.
The Brussels team was to meet the hosts of the tournament, Team New York Aquatics (TNYA), for the quarter finals. After a victory (15-4), the fate led to another game against TNYA in the semi-finals. A new victory opened the doors to the finals for the Brussels Mannekenfish were they were to meet again the San Francisco Tsunami. After the first tight game at the beginning of the tournament, the Mannekenfish stayed fully focussed. However, the team had improved all along the tournament leading to a victory against the Californians 8-3.
CELEBRATING WORL PRIDE 2019
After the tournament, the team took part in the celebration of the world pride. On Sunday 30 June, the team joined all the participants of the IGLA tournament to march in the streets of New York. This edition of the world pride was the opportunity to commemorate the 50 anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the event that is considered as the starting point for the movement for LGBT+ liberation movement.
On 18 May 2019 the Brussels Mannekenfish participated in the Belgian Pride celebrating diversity and inclusiveness in all sports, not only in waterpolo. Promoting the departure of the Tour de France in the city from 1st till 7th July, the Mannekenfish rode their bikes wearing a rainbowed version of the famous 'Maillot Jaune' and brand new matching waterpolo caps!
The day started with a bike ride from the Atomium to the city center, spreading love and happiness along the streets, with iconic claps and choreography at the street lights and on the main squares of the city.
In the afternoon, the Mannenkenfish marched with pride, making their way into the crowd on their bikes as well as they are used to do in the pool. Their bright colours and sexy speedos did not remain unnoticed by the 100 000 participants to the event.
It was the priority of season 2017-2018 : performing well and having the best group atmosphere at the Paris 2018 Gay Games. And we did both!
The Mannekenfish reaching the top 3 in the world with the bronze medal in the competitive tournament, beating the Toronto Triggerfish 7-6 in the 'small final'. The Mannekenfish almost made it to the finals after a 9-9 against San Francisco Tsunamis, one of the best teams in the world. But the Californians were stronger in the penalty shootouts.
In the recreational league, the second Mannekenfish team, the Brussels Sprouts, showed the world that they really improved their level. They were ranked 10th after a defeat in the 8th finals against Brisbane.
After the water polo competition, all the players performed together for the famous Pink Flamingo competition. The performance recounting the birth of the Brussels Mannekenfish amazed the jury which rewarded the team with the prize for Best Costumes.
Beyond all these achievements in and around the pool, the 25 players engaged in the competition enjoyed 10 days of great team spirit, building connections with players and teams from all around the world!
We thank visit.brussels for the support and hope we made everyone proud!
PRESS ARTICLES :
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The Brussels Mannekenfish got naked again to offer you a new edition of their famous calendar. For 2018 the objective of the team was to illustrate the core values of the team: friendship, fun, team spirit and openness.
This new edition of the calendar aims to support our participation to the Gay Games X in Paris next August. About 15 000 athletes from all over the word are expected to join the event. In the water polo category, more than 450 players across 36 teams have already signed up. Participating in the Gay Games is our main focus this season. We will train hard to reach the gold. But what matters most are the bonds we've created with each other. Let's show everybody that Brussels is a place where people know how to have fun!
To get your copy of the calendar, click here!
On August 25th the Mannekenfish took part to a summer tournament organised by our mates from the Manchester Sharks Water Polo team.
They wittingly scheduled the tournament during the fabulous Manchester Pride weekend in a way that all the brave participants could enjoy a crazy and fun weekend after an hard sporty day in the pool. What a blast we had !
The Mannekenfish came along with one big team of 16 players enrolled in the competitive category.
Here below are the results of the 7 games we played during the tournament :
Brussels Mannekenfish 14 - 4 Paris Aquatique B
Brussels Mannekenfish 7 – 4 Paris Aquatique A
Brussels Mannekenfish 7 – 4 London Orca A
Brussels Mannekenfish 7 – 6 Amsterdam Waterproof
Manchester Sharks A 4 – 6 Brussels Mannekenfish
Brussels Mannekenfish 11 – 3 Paris Aquatique A
Manchester Sharks 5 – 8 Brussels Mannekenfish
You’re at ease in the water?
You’d like to play a ball sport with teammates?
Look no further: our LGBT/LGBT friendly team is seeking new players.
Come and try it during our 2017 early season bootcamp!
The Brussels Mannekenfish created the buzz on Facebook with a video aimed at advertising the Eurochamps Brussels 2016 organised by the team on 28-31 October. The players revisited the last promotional video Kenzo World, directed by Spike Jonze and starring Margaret Qualley with an original track by Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums feat. The video posted on the Facebook page of the team quickly went viral, reaching 100k views and 1000 shares in only 48 hours.
The video did not go unnoticed by the group Kenzo. The Director General of Kenzo Perfume, Patricia Tranvouëz, congratulated the team for the way the Mannekenfish showed that they 'dare to see the world their own way'. The director letter came with some presents for all the member involved. These attentions definitely boosted the moral of the team, a few days before the competition!
On 5 August 2016 the Brussels Mannekenfish were taking part in the summer tournament organised by Waterproof Amsterdam. They won their 5 first games and their semifinal. They met their hosts for the final game that resulted in a win for Waterproof Amsterdam and a silver medal - or more exactly a silver clog - for the Brussels Mannekenfish.
The competition started with a remake of the final of the previous tournament against Paris Aquatique 1. The Mannekenfish ended up victorious (5-3). They were then confronted to the new team of Waterproof Amsterdam that resulted in a second victory (6-0). They won their third game against the mixed team of Manchester/Active Company (4-1). The Mannekenfish finally secured the first place of their group by winning the two games against London Orca 3 ( 6-1) and London Orca 1 (5-1).
In semi-final, London Orca 2 offered a good resistance but the Mannekenfish managed to keep their ground and the confrontation resulted with another win 4-2. The last game against the A team of the Waterproof Amsterdam promised to be tough and it was. The hosting team took the lead and the Mannekenfish did not manage to overcome the situation. The Brussels team ended the day in silver.