As the sun sets on the final day of preparation at the famous Belgian Club of Waterloo Ducks, the excitement of the players is palpable.
They have been training for the opportunity to play at the Fintro EuroHockey Championships, each team with their own target, stay in the Division, a semi-final place, a medal, to win the Championship and to secure a place at the 2016 Junior World Cup.
We caught up with some of the Coaches in advance:
Maciej Matuszyński, Coach of the Polish men’s team ‘During its preparations to the Fintro EuroHockey Junior Championships (M) to be held in Belgium, Polish National U21 Men’s Team played several control matches with club teams of Germany (I and II Bundesliga) and Netherlands (II NED League). Purpose of above was to get players in sync and choose which of them will represent POL during the Championships. Training camps were organized in Gasawa during June and July. Players were training mainly penalty corners and penalty shots. Last phase of the Team’s preparations will be international matches with National Germany Team U18, which will take place in Hamburg between 10th and 14th July.’
Chris Faust, Coach of the Czech Women’s team ‘To be honest we are preparing for our Czech ‘Waterloo’… I have a fantastic group of very young players in my team that will enjoy this Tournament and the experience of playing in the Championships! But unfortunately I have lost 2 key players in my number 1 GK and centre back, so we know that the task ahead is a difficult one and that our first 3 games will be very hard. We have prepared the players for all possibilities and will fight every moment of every game, but we are also realistic about our chances of staying in the Division. In total in Czech Republic we have 900 players playing hockey, so in fact given our performances in the past 2 years, we have been very successful! This Tournament is a great one for some of our girls who will also be playing in World League soon and indeed a number of them will be eligible for the EuroHockey Junior Championships in 2016. I know they players will play with great spirit and enjoy themselves!’
The current Men’s Champions are Belgium and their coach Philippe Goldberg was very clear in his target for the Championship ‘We will put the focus on the match of the day! We will not think ahead. The only targets we have are based on what we want to show as a team, not based on results, but on showing the values we stand for. It’s great that we have 6 players that were in Den Bosch in 2012, Arnaud Flamand, Alexander Hendrickx, Max Capelle, Mathew Cobbaert, Dimitri Cuvelier, Max Plennevaux, but we are clear that there are no ‘ones to watch, we are a team and want to be seen as one. Every player has something to offer, has his own added value. Playing ‘at home’ can go either way in terms of advantage, however our players prepared themselves to use this as an advantage. They want to show how hard they trained and what kind of team we are. Let’s hope the Belgian crowd give them the support they deserve!
And finally Alyson Annan – Coach of the current Women’s champions The Netherlands “As current Champions at this level, at this stage of the players careers firsly it is very important that the girls develop themselves as hockeyplayers as well as people. Next to that we would like to deliver some new senior internationals after this Championships.Its great that we still heav 9 players who played in Den Bosch with a number who are debuting at U21 level here in Waterloo.” Her advice is the keep an eye on all of her players as she has a well balanced talented team. Her emphasis is on the first two games which are the most important ones and she’ll have a better idea then where they are in the Tournament.
The Match schedules are available here
We will be live tweeting from @eurohockeyorg #EHJC14
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Photograph: EuroHockey Champions 2012, the Belgian boys celebrate