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How our small country is still world champion in a team sport at the Hockey world cup

2be39eec1a616864966ce0a77626fcbb - How our small country is still world champion in a team sport at the Hockey world cup

Individual sports heroes we knew al long. World champion in a team sport, that seemed to be for a small country like Belgium impossible. To Sunday, in India.

“We now have enough silverware in the cabinet, time for gold.’ Expressed Red Lion Loïck Luypaert it all before the tournament. The Belgians made it: world champion hockey. All they had that world title …

“We now have enough silverware in the cabinet, time for gold.’ Expressed Red Lion Loïck Luypaert it all before the tournament. The Belgians made it: world champion hockey. All they had that world title twice earn.

There was that olympic title in football, in 1920. There was the world championship basketball: for ten editions, each time with the same finale between the same two countries. Nine times, the Netherlands was world champion, one time Belgium. Oh, and the Fed Cup with kim Clijsters and Hénin, but is this a team sport?

The reality is that Belgium was yesterday in the Indian Bhubaneswar for the first time world champion has be crowned in a team sport with global appeal. That was earned – all kept the Low Countries together in the finale perfectly in balance – and moreover, came not from the air cases. The Red Lions were for nothing less than gold come. Such self-confidence is not uncommon for individual talents, such as Eddy Merckx, Justine Henin, or Nafi Thiam. But in a team sport for which you have a 20-odd riders need, it sounds almost inappropriate.

The sportlogica and the statistics say that countries with less than, say, 20 or 30 million inhabitants in such sports only accidentally a world title can get. After four lost finals, were the hockeybelgen bitten to doemgedachte to clear. All they had than over the Netherlands, which, since 1998, to a new world title was dying in a sport in which it’s always a superpower has been.

No glorious finale

A delicious finale, it was unfortunately not. That could be, as Tom Boon very early in the race a little better the hard shot of Simon Gougnard would have gedevieerd. Who knows, it was after such an early opening goal, however, 5-4 or so. Now, continued the match on slot. Was it because of the nerves that every promising attack on both sides in this intense finale ended on a final pass that failed, and a ball that is tight against a foot tapped, a leg that is a little bit swiftly, causing the control over the ball momentarily faltered? Or was it just the rising fear that one goal the difference would make? A 0-0 is in hockey are rare, and thrilling was the spectacle.

Except the shootouts, the penalty of the hockey: first, a 2-0 disadvantage and despair. Then the Belgians who suddenly, however, scored, and goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch that his opponents errors forced. And the unforgettable ending, with the videoscheidsrechter in a leading role. After a hit of Arthur De Sloover thought the Belgians are already a champion, a half-minute long. To the Dutch, quite rightly, protested for a voetfout to make the winning goal. Everything will be repeated. Florent Van Aubel slipped for a second time, with the face of a man with a mission: a demonstration of mental strength. Goalkeeper Vanasch brightened then his part of the job. Again world champion, a few minutes after the first time.

For father Gougnard

Tears of joy ran down many faces. Imagine the emotions of Simon Gougnard, whose father in the night for the semi finals in Belgium from cancer died. But also of his companions. It is a small world, hockey: a lot of top players already play together since their early youth. Even more than in larger sports such as football to be such emotions collectively processed. With a world championship, for example.

The newspaper La Dernière Heure published Saturday a portrait of Pierre Gougnard, whose life is two days too short to get his son a world champion. Lawyer and honorary president of Watducks, the top club in Waterloo. It confirms the image of a tiny, elitist world. The locations of the clubs – Brasschaat, Waterloo, Uccle, and in the Netherlands, Bloemendaal and Wassenaar arrangement and the names of the players – also the Flemish people are called Florent or Loïck or Arthur, not Kevin or Mohammed are yet more grist to that mill.

Is entirely justified that reputation is not (any longer). Hockey remains a “white” sport, and the students come predominantly from the wealthy class. Nevertheless, it is the snobbery of the old days, when the French in Flanders is still the language of instruction was in the hockey – today gone: players as Luypaert, Van Aubel and Van Doren, which is often on tv the word, are likeable guys, wars of airs. The bond is doing a huge effort to get everyone to welcome you, as a player or spectator: even the matches in the highest class are free. Hockey is working on a democratisation, as tennis has done. The sport is growing fast: today, about 50,000 players. That is still only one fifth of the Netherlands, the European hockeynatie par excellence. A lot of Belgian top players depart for a while to Dutch or Indian clubs, because that is financially interesting. (Between brackets: the Red Lions to earn their world championship 5,000 euros – thanks to a generous sponsor. For silver, they would not have been given.)

No coincidence

Still the little brother of the Netherlands, so? In the width still. The Dutch Volkskrant newspaper, recently wrote an analysis about why Belgium in sports such as football, basketball, volleyball and athletics are suddenly better results than the Netherlands. ‘Belgium by chance better than the Netherlands’ was the title. To some extent you’re right that the Netherlands is traditionally a country of planners and with a topsportmentaliteit, and Eden Hazard on their own soil born see be is a matter of luck. But it was precisely in the hockey proves Belgium is that sporting success is indeed feasible. This road is, after all, more than ten years built, by people with vision and ambition. Marc Coudron, record international, and president of the hockey federation, predicted a world title and an olympic title at 2024. He is on track.

After all, there is talent in the width. The absence of a few fixed values – such as the sick, John-John Dohmen, 2016 best player in the world – was seamlessly taken care of. Only a few players are older than 30, and the level of the to get do prospects that the Red Lions for years chiseled sit. The european CHAMPIONSHIPS in 2019 place in Wilrijk: the lines at the cashier will be long.

Now the women

The wait is taken up by the women. One of the great strengths of the hockey is still popular in Brussels and Antwerp – is that parents do have their sons and daughters together to the training: the sport is in both sexes almost equally popular.

The Red Panthers pick up yet, not at the level of the Lions, but they grow fast. In the women, there is also space at the top of the world: the Dutch, who the final of the last world cup with 6-0 win will be more competitive like to see.

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