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30.07.2015, 17:20
Foxy close to being a rock star in Montpellier
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FEATURE: The summer break offers a good opportunity on some of the outstanding club mascots. The new series starts in Montpellier featuring the blue fox.
 

Foxy close to being a rock star in Montpellier

For seventeen years now, Foxy, also known as the Blue Fox, has been running around the playing arenas of Montpellier HB.

Being also the symbol of the fans crew with the same name the little animal has now become a regular fixture for home games of the 2003 EHF Champions League winners.

Gérard Didier, who runs the fan group of over 300 supporters, and sometimes wears the fur outfit, looks back on how it was created.

"The idea of a mascot emerged in the minds of the blue fox fans, and the club then supported the idea. Back in 1997, we built it with our own hands, it looked very makeshift, but you could still put someone in the animal without it falling to pieces!" he laughs.

"Later it started to look outdated, so we bought one and it was replaced again last summer," he added.

The fox, he recalls, "has nothing to do with the Montpellier region. But it is a smart animal, who always finds its way around things. It fitted our team well, and we never changed it."

Real part in the club's identity

Gérard is not the only person acting as the mascot in Montpellier. In fact, there are three people taking turns wearing the fox head. The only difference is that the mascot is only present at the teams entrance on the court, so that the man inside can go back and bang the drums among the fans during the game.

"Even though we're wearing the costume for a short time, it feels like a sauna," explains Gérard. "I don't know how the guys in Germany do it, running around like crazy for ninety minutes."

Following the team all around Europe for nearly twenty years now, the blue foxes have had more than one occasion to compare their mascot's work to their foreign comrades.

"Well if I had to pick two of my favourites, it'd be Conny in Rhein-Neckar Löwen and the big-headed guy in Veszprem. They're so dynamic, they're really a part of the show, a part of the club and now you can't think of those clubs without thinking of their mascots. Hein Daddel in Kiel has become an icon as well."

The French fans are slowly turning Foxy into something very famous in Montpellier as well. "Our fox has now become a real part of the club's identity. You see it on pictures, the kids are absolutely loving it! You should see how many of them are lining up to have a picture taken with Foxy, he has become a true star in here!"

EHF Cup Finals as a high point

The high point for Foxy though, was the EHF Cup Finals in 2014 in Berlin. For the whole weekend, the four teams competing let their mascots run around the arena.

"We didn't quite know what to expect, and the day before I got the call that I had to introduce the players and that Foxy would be on the court as well," recalls Gérard, still clearly touched by the whole thing.

"And it's just unbelievable, to take part in something like this with the club that you love. I want Montpellier to go to Cologne for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 one day, just to live it. It's amazing the organisation is giving so much credit to fans and mascots now," he said.

In terms of crowd engagement, Foxy has learnt around Europe how he can make his tricks work. "Celje, Veszprem, those are arenas where the fans, the mascot, the team and the whole club are just one big entity. I've got a lot of respect for all of them" explains the head of the fans before expressing his love for his own René Bougnol Arena

"I know that when we play here, all of the 3,500 persons will back up their team and it will come naturally, whereas in the bigger new Arena, Foxy will have a crucial role, of trying to reach the persons, making them participate to the show."

Yet again this season, Foxy will carry on his European tour, since Montpellier will be a part of the VELUX EHF Champions League circus. Gérard Didier is very much looking forward to it.

"We're going to see Celje and Rhein-Neckar Löwen again, two places I'm very fond of, the Kielce arena is something astonishing as well, really something we look up to. I can't wait to be there again!"

Photo: Blue Fox


TEXT: Kevin Domas / br
 
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