About three months ago, Albers received a message from national coach Alyson Annan which touched me hard, Albers said after the quarterfinal victory against New Zealand (3-0). “In a one-on-one conversation she made it clear to me that if my game didn’t improve, the European Championship and the Games would be a difficult story,” said Albers. “Looking back, it was a great wake-up call for me.”
Albers decided not to give up, but to take inspiration from this announcement and she started working on herself. And not without success. She finished the season well at her club in Amsterdam and also showed her talent at the European Championships in her own country. “I worked on my attacking game. Sometimes I was a little too hungry for the ball and tried to develop a certain maturity in my game.”
Three days after winning the European title, while Albers was enjoying a short vacation in Friesland, the phone rang. It was Annan, who had better news this time. In mid-June, cheers rang out from the northern vacation home.
Albers was also allowed to cheer four times at Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo, the setting for the Olympic hockey tournament. “I’m not involved at all and I don’t put any pressure on myself, but they come easily,” said Albers, the daughter of Guido Albers, a leading football agent. “It’s great that I’m here and I enjoy every game.”
As Tokyo approached, the newcomer to the Olympic selection sought advice from experienced players. “I asked them all how it worked. The Olympic Village in particular is very impressive, all the athletes from countries you didn’t know existed are there.”
Albers is the youngest player in the hockey selection. “So I have to make sure every day that the group is full and count if everyone is there,” says Albers. For now, she seems to keep the players together and can’t seem to prevent an Olympic title from Orange. “In the next few days, we will give everything we have and we will fight for this gold medal.”
The Orange team will face defending Olympic champions Great Britain in the semi-final on Wednesday. The game starts at 3:30 a.m. Dutch time.
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