We arrived in Antwerp Central station from Schiphol on the afternoon of 17 June. We arrived underground and had to make our way up the escalators to become aware of the wonderful architecture of Antwerp Station and were confronted by this towering edifice.
The outside of the building was equally as impressive and we were to weave our way in and out of this building over the next two weeks.
Our South African players, began a 2.5 k walk burdened with all our luggage to find our hotel accommodation. One of the draw-backs of playing international hockey is that the Hotel and the playing fields are often miles apart. It was to prove true in this case as well. In the last World Cup in Barcelona, and in our first match of the tournament against Germany we decided to use Uber to get to the fields. Alas they didn’t come and we arrived late for our first game. The match started without the coach, the goalkeeper and one or two players. In fact we started to play quite well in our panic. However when the coach arrived, he re-arranged the positions and in the process we lost confidence, and lost the match. Strange.
Here we are on our first trip to find the HHC Dragon playing fields in Brasschaat, a suburb of Antwerp, some 45 minutes from Central Station. On one of our trips in a panic the wife of one of our players got off the bus because some of the players were anxious about our missing our stop. There she was for a moment outside the bus with the doors closed in dance-like merriment with us all beckoning to her to get back on. Fortunately the driver was observing us and opened the door.
Nothing like walking miles before a match.
The grand opening of the European Cup 2019 and our team is the first out.
Our handsome team of 70 year plus before a match was played.
Victory is sweet against the Netherlands whom we beat 2-1 in the play-offs
Astroturf has tranformed hockey and it is an important reason why we can continue to play into our riper years. The ball is true and should come to you, instead of your chasing after it as you would do on grass fields. No long balls that a player has to run after! However, astroturf is hard on the knees so grandmaster players have to manage their knees. In the picture above there is a surgeon who has done may knee operations and a good few of the players in that picture have had knee ops. My feeling is that running to keep fit is not good for the knees: cycling is. But when you get onto the pitch, you have to run. I think I manage a walk/run movement of 8-10 ks if I play the full 70 minutes.
We have been trained to warm up properly, and to warm down by doing a number of stretching exercises, and because of this and our general fitness we can play 5-6 matches in a tournament without injury. Some matches are without a rest day in between. Not bad for grand-masters!
Our Pool Results Lost 1-0 LX (England); Drew Alliance 1-0; Lost Netherlands 3-1; In Play-offs Beat Alliance 3-1; Beat Netherlands 2-1