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!