Does hockey still have a place in the Olympics? There has been a lot of criticism in recent years: it is said that hockey is too small a sport and it is even said in the halls that hockey could well disappear from the Olympic calendar after 2032. As a hockey fan, that shocks me .
For the past two weeks, I have been able to analyze all the games in the Netherlands during the Hockey World Cup in India for Ziggo Sport, with Teun de Nooijer. As I enjoyed the level, it was of an unprecedented height. To be well prepared, I wanted to see as much as possible. Several times, I was completely wrong in my predictions. Home country India were knocked out by New Zealand and Argentina came out on top against South Korea. These countries seemed to succumb to the pressure, but it could also be linked to the level of this World Cup: it was closer to each other. No game was boring and lots of goals were scored.
After losing the quarter-finals at the Tokyo Olympics, the Dutch team has been transformed. Under new national coach Jeroen Delmee, they have clearly taken a different path. He expects one hundred percent ‘commitment’: put everything aside for the Dutch team and you live day to day as an international. He is open and honest in his feedback to his players, remains calm in tense moments and above all Delmee is a great enthusiast. With his staff, he has a clear idea of what suits this group of players in terms of play. Delmee really knows how to touch these guys. He selected.
A year ago, nobody dared to predict that this Dutch team would reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, let alone sometimes face Belgium. They were close, but missed too many chances in the first half to destroy Belgium, eventually losing the match on penalties. It may be related to experience, the Belgians have won the World Cup and the Olympics with this group in recent years.
Yet they return home with a medal; not the desired color, but they will take this experience with them to the Paris Games.
All in all, it was an inspiring world championship and it’s good for world hockey. And yes, as far as I’m concerned, hockey still has a place in the Olympics.