The Red Lions deadlines do not wait. Even for the gold medalists in Tokyo who will take to the pitch, just 39 days after their Olympic coronation. Indeed, on October 16 and 17, Belgium will start its new Pro League campaign, at Uccle Sport, against Germany.
A first meeting that the successor of Shane McLeod marked with a red cross in his diary. And to prepare as well as possible for this double duel, the Dutchman decided to summon his nucleus, from Monday, to start a new cycle, the first major challenge of which will be the World Cup organized in India, in January 2023.
“It is true that it is early but the program is not very busy either”, tempers John-John Dohmen. “We will have a fitness session on Monday and a workout on Tuesday. It is very light compared to what we have known for several months. But it’s important to be able to find us all, to train together again and to reconnect with the larger group. We were only 18 at the Olympics. At first, those who did not take part in the Games and the young people will train a little more than us. Then, in December, those who have participated in several Olympics will be entitled to more rest. Then, we will go to an internship in South America at the end of January before facing Argentina in the Pro League. “
If Thomas Briels is the only one to see officially announced that he is putting an end to his international career, no one else is expected to leave the nucleus during the coming months. A group in which we will naturally find the new extremely talented generation (Tommy Willems, William Ghislain, Max Van Oost or Thibeau Stockbroekx), but also Manu Stockbroekx who returns to the Red Lions after a period of 6 months on the sidelines of the team. “It’s not a big surprise that almost everyone wants to continue,” continues the record holder of selections (416 caps). “This medal gives us maximum confidence. And when you win, you don’t want to hang up. We all feel that we can do even better. Obviously, it is essential to integrate the youngest. But it’s even easier given the current circumstances. We already had discussions with Michel van den Heuvel on the practical organization several months ago. And I appreciate, for example, that he adapts the schedule or the intensity of the sessions according to our seniority. A young person can work more hours than an older one. The goal is to keep everyone at their best. We don’t have to do the same things at 20 or 33. We have the same vision of hockey. ” it’s about keeping everyone at their best. We don’t have to do the same things at 20 or 33. We have the same vision of hockey. ” it’s about keeping everyone at their best. We don’t have to do the same things at 20 or 33. We have the same vision of hockey. “
What role for Shane McLeod?
The departure of the New Zealand magician and the appointment of Michel van den Heuvel will also redistribute the cards within the staff. But no urgency, however, for Serge Pilet, the CEO of the Federation. “For the moment, we will be working with the duo Michel – Craig Fulton. we will find a solution and a new T2 when the program is more loaded. Before that, we may occasionally work with consultants. It could be a Belgian but the main thing is to find the best profile first. Regarding Shane McLeod, we have not yet discussed the rest of our collaboration but we wish to entrust him with consultancy missions. The goal is to try to get him back in the staff. But to move forward, we must first have frank discussions on the distribution of roles within the staff. “
The goal of the Red Lions and van den Heuvel will be to do as well in the next Olympiad (which will only last 3 years this time!). The progress accomplished has been remarkable but the idea is well to continue to progress on these foundations by integrating the new generation. Belgium want to aim as high as possible and continue to win titles. The ambition will always be to appear, at a minimum, on the podium in major tournaments by aiming for gold. Belgium is not yet satisfied and its appetite has never seemed so keen …