A year after becoming one of three inaugural inductees to the EHF Hall of Fame, we caught up with Teun de Nooijer in Nanjing, China, where he was attending the Youth Olympic Games as an Athlete Role Model. His responsibilities as an Athlete Role Model Teun describes as promoting the Olympic spirit and promoting hockey as his sport.
Retired from actively playing, Teun is still involved in hockey as a coach and trainer through his three daughters who all play hockey with Teun’s club HC Bloemendaal. Professionally, Teun works as the team manager for AZ Alkmaar, a Dutch football club.
Football is obviously a completely different environment from hockey and is a much more professional sport, and Teun enjoys “seeing how things work there”. He also enjoys still being involved in sports, while getting to experience a completely different side of it, and says, “So far, it has been a great experience. The only thing is before the game, when the players jump on the pitch, I have to jump into the dugout, and that’s a bit weird”.
As an Athlete Role Model, Teun had a tight schedule that kept him busy from morning to night participating in the educational and cultural activities that took place in the Olympic Village, and he watched various sports, not just hockey but also diving and rhythmic gymnastics.
Another task the Athlete Role Models or ARMs had at Youth Olympic Games was to share their knowledge and experience as Olympians with the young athletes who enjoyed their first Olympic experience. As an EHF Hall of Famer, Teun brought not only vast experience in hockey, but also some European flair!
Asked for his most important piece of advice, Teun said, “At the end of the day, I think it is all about passion, the passion that you have for your sport, the love for the game. If that is there, and you really want it, not just because, but really, really want it, then in the end, you will manage I think.”
As for the format that was showcased in Nanjing, the Hockey5s, Teun said, “I hadn’t seen Hockey5s before. My first thought is that it is a fun game to play. These are the games you play during the week, in practice, the 3 against 3, 5 against 5, 4 against 4. These are maybe the most fun games to play.”
Teun also praised the Hockey5s format’s speed and excitement: “It goes back and forth all the time, and if you’re 3-0 down, 4-0 down, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to win the game anymore. It goes so quickly. For the spectators as well, it is a fantastic game to watch, because there are a lot of goals, there is a lot of excitement, it’s all very close.”
So what is next for Teun after the Youth Olympics? “It’s straight back to AZ Alkmaar for our next matches, and of course also back home to my family!”
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