As captain, Thierry Brinkman is the leader of the new Orange, which will start the World Cup in India on January 14. The first real moment of measurement for the new generation of go-kart tractors.
How many times have you talked about the 1998 World Cup in your house?
Thierry Brinkman: “Well, it was regularly discussed. My father (former international Jacques, editor’s note) of course played the game. I don’t know much about it myself, but for him it was a unique tournament. Not only because the Netherlands won, but also because it was at FC Utrecht’s football stadium. We probably have pictures of them, but they’re probably in the attic.
It was also the last time the Netherlands won a World Cup.
‘I know. It was a long time ago. What did we achieve in the years that followed? Twice silver and twice bronze? Well, that’s a given. It’s not the case that my father’s successful years as a player are cited as motivation for today.
Is it still often text messages, supposed to be private, but which your father read on television after elimination from the Tokyo Games?
Fortunately, it is a closed story. It was an awkward moment for me. We were then on our way to the airport. It wasn’t pretty, although he was choked with dissatisfaction with the outcome in Tokyo. Of course, these messages should never have been broadcast on television. He was also disappointed with our elimination. Everyone expected more from the Games, including my father who is one of my biggest fans.
Is it good for you that he’s been on less TV these days?
‘He can do that for me. Something like Orange Summer, with Johan Derksen and Hélène Hendriks, isn’t that good? My father also knows that it was not convenient to read my messages. It really won’t happen again. But he can still talk about hockey well. I really don’t need to give permission for that.
Has a lot changed for you in the last year and a half?
‘Many. If I’m right, eleven guys are going to the World Cup who have never played in a tournament. They all came to a place where there was still an experienced player in Tokyo. As a result, my role has also changed. I suddenly became one of the most experienced players. I have already spoken about it in one of the first conversations with Jeroen Delmée, who became national coach after the Games. About an initiator role.
Did that surprise you?
‘Not really. In the previous group, I also wanted to deliver, but it was not the case that I “only participated a little”, because others were older. I put this pressure on myself. I was no longer in the phase where I looked at others. Now there were so many new guests that it only made sense for the remaining boys to take on such a role. After the Games, we sat down with a group to reflect together on the next time in Orange.
How was it?
Also quite spontaneous. We wanted to move on. Don’t dwell on the past and what went wrong. We discussed what we wanted with a few guys – even before we started under Delmée. What kind of Dutch team we wanted to be.
What came out of it?
“First of all, I must say that it was not necessary to change everything. As I said, of course the Games were a disappointment. But all has not been wrong in recent years. In the 2018 World Cup, everything was fine for me. Then came periods of ups and downs. From the lost semi-final at the European Championship against Spain (in which the Netherlands fell behind 4-0, editor’s note) until the victory at the European Championship in 2021.’
What topics did you cover?
‘About the game experience. How we interacted and interacted with each other. What we wanted to shine on the field. What playing for the Dutch team meant to us. In the end, two words were central: behavior and energy. Our identity begins with this.
Constantly radiates that you are on, as we often say?
‘Precisely. Be as stoic as possible. Don’t let disappointment exist. If you lose the ball, too bad. Has no importance. Repack as soon as possible. The game has – as Delmée often said – changed a lot in recent years. It has become a “sprinting game” in which speed plays a major role. As a result, you have less time. As attackers, we spent a lot of time knocking out of barrel, to name just one example.
You have become the captain of this group of new leaders.
“It’s of course an honor, even if it’s a cliché. It also corresponds to my personal development. Something new, which comes my way after a few years. At Bloemendaal, I’m also part of the management group, so it doesn’t come out of nowhere. I don’t want to make it too heavy, after all I don’t have all the wisdom of a monopoly. But I know what it takes to perform as an individual and I also have my ideas of what we want as a team. This role allows me to express that a little more.
Did you have to get used to it?
“At first, it was scanning. But intuition will take you far enough. When I played my first international match, I also liked that someone approached me and gave me a little more confidence up front. It’s like that now. Of course, I’m not the only one working with this group. I must not forget myself as a player either. I think it’s a sign of good leadership to reach a high level yourself. Deliver and thus let others play well. Then I’m not necessarily talking about big actions and goals. It can also be about taking a ball in our own circle. Be present and play with a lot of intensity.’
According to your club coach, Rick Mathijssen, everything you touch turns to gold.
‘Haha, well that’s not too bad. I try to get everything out of it. I want to succeed in what I do. Now it’s mainly hockey. I want to get everything out of it. I’m curious to know what we are capable of with this team. I really do everything for that.
What does this dedication show?
“The fact that I am already focusing on the next six years. In the period leading up to the Games in Los Angeles, I want – if it’s physically possible of course – to give my all for hockey. I want to continue with the current group until then. I wonder where this can lead us. With this group, we can achieve real success in the years to come. This thought excites me. What are we capable of together?
Why do you place this point on the horizon so far away?
‘Because I have been a firm believer in building with a collective for several years. When you’re together for a long time, you get stronger. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to harvest before Los Angeles. But getting there is a realistic goal for this group. In Bloemendaal, I saw where it can lead. There, the heart of the selection is also the long time spent together and I learned to build a team. By investing in each other, knowing each other from head to toe.
Is Orange stronger than before Delmée’s arrival?
‘I think so. This is due to a composition change. Other guests, other characters. But again: this does not mean that everything was not well before.
You just mentioned harvesting. When do you think you did well in India?
“The group stage shouldn’t really be a problem. New Zealand are the strongest opponent in this area, but we also have to win against this team if we reach our normal level. The quarter-finals will be a new experience for this group, many of whom have never played in a knockout match at a major tournament. If we fly, I’ll be disappointed. But if I’m honest, second or third place doesn’t make me happy either. We were also on the podium at the previous World Cup.
So you’re going for the gold. Is it realistic?
This is the question of this winter. A tricky question. The fact that we have been so good this summer is no guarantee for this World Cup. I hope we can show this free and uninhibited feeling. Do not think too much. Not too many “what ifs”. Then we can really go very far.
“We can beat all the best players in the world. So why not?’
“Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover.”