Hockey coach Mathijssen ready for new season, but feeling is ‘contradictory’

In the first division there is now football again, the premier league starts next week and also the hockey players can start today. Sunday afternoon will see the first league games since March 8th.

Then, as a result of the corona pandemic, the premier league was shut down and six weeks later, the hockey association pulled the plug on all competitions. No champions were appointed and no clubs were promoted or relegated.

That was also – and especially maybe – a big disappointment for the men of Bloemendaal. The reigning national champion was at the top and the team was in excellent shape.

For the new coach of the record champion (twenty titles) it all turned out differently. Rick Mathijssen would go to the Olympics in Tokyo as assistant union coach of the Netherlands and then start at Bloemendaal. It all didn’t go through.

But Mathijssen did get the opportunity to prepare himself for his task at his new club down to the last detail. He looked back at all the league games of last season.

“We had the time for it,” Mathijssen said. “Anyway, the whole preparation is different. Normally we would have had two weeks, now six. You might have had some tired internationals, now everyone is fresh. Although I notice that the players sometimes still have some difficulty to get started.”

In the run-up to the start of the new league, the hockey association presented additional corona regulations. In case of six or more infections, a team can request to postpone a match.

Promptly came the news last Friday that the match between the hockey players of Amsterdam and HGC will not take place. Three corona infections have been detected in the Amsterdam team and three players have been quarantined as a precaution.

“Accident in a small corner

Mathijssen became champion with the women of Amsterdam in 2019 and also won the Europe Cup with the team. He knows the background of the situation at the club.

“The players followed the rules, kept their distance from each other. But it happened anyway. It indicates that an accident is in a small corner and everyone must remain aware of the risks you always run”

The news also creates a double feeling in the hockey world, according to Mathijssen. “It’s contradictory. On the one hand there is the feeling of freedom, that we can do what we like best again. On the other hand, there is also the danger of contamination.”

“That’s difficult for top athletes. They want to do one thing: sport. We’re not in a bubble”, said the coach, referring to the situation in which the riders in the Tour de France, for example, find themselves. They are shielded from the outside world as much as possible and have to wear mouth caps outside the race.

Skewed competition

With an immediate cancellation in the first round of play, there is the possibility of a ‘skewed’ competition. “Whether the competition will be played out? I can’t say a wise word about that. We’ve prepared ourselves to play every game and do everything we can to reduce risks. That’s the only thing we can influence.”

Mathijssen also likes to look at other athletes and their situation. “I had to think of sailor Marit Bouwmeester, whom I recently heard in a podcast. For four years she has been doing everything she can to prepare for the Games, but it could just be that there is no wind on that one day”

“There’s nothing she can do about that. All she can do is make sure she’s at the start as good as she can.”

Not only the men of Bloemendaal have a new coach, so does Kampong. At the Utrecht club this season is former union coach Roelant Oltman’s head coach.