The Dragons striker will have his first experience abroad after winning 7 titles with the Dragons. He will join the Dutch club, where Alexander Hendrickx and Sebastien Dockier already play, and which has strong ambitions for the future.
End of suspense for the Red Lions striker who announced that he would continue his career in the Dutch championship where he has just signed a contract for 2 seasons, on the side of Pinoké, currently third in Hoofdklasse and already qualified for the playoffs . “I would like to point out that at first there was never any real desire to leave the Dragons since I felt good in this club”, specifies Florent van Aubel from the outset. “But the basis of the reflection was the opportunity to experience a professional and family project abroad and more specifically in Amsterdam. I always had this dream of trying an experience abroad and the Dragons was aware of this desire. But this year my wife received a job offer to work in Amsterdam and that accelerated the process. That’s why I started talking more concretely with Pinoké. I also had contacts with Bloemendaal but I found myself more in the proposal of my new colors. I am excited about the overall project. The dynamic has been excellent for several seasons and the results are following. There are also a lot of promising elements from the youth school and Pinoké has strong ambitions for the future. »
At 30, the quadruple Golden Stick (2012, 2018, 2019 and 2021), who has spent his last 13 seasons with Brasschaat (with 7 championship titles at stake) needed to take on a new challenge in joining the prestigious Dutch competition even if he also admits having had advanced contacts with the Gantoise club. “I’m going to get out of my comfort zone and I think it’s something that will do me the greatest good,” continues the brilliant striker who started hockey at 4 years old at Indiana. “Maybe even more this season. Now is the perfect time to try a new adventure. I’ve been thinking a lot about my future over the past few weeks. And it wasn’t the first time. Before the Covid crisis, and few people know this, I was in fairly advanced discussions with the Rot-Weiss Cologne. I was excited to be able to find myself in a new city with a new challenge. I thought it was a good opportunity to be able to join Vincent Vanasch, but the health situation changed the plans. So it has always been in me if I was very happy at the Dragons. »
Delicate months and a mini burn-out after gold in Tokyo
The time was therefore ideal to leave the club dear to his heart at a pivotal moment in his career since Florent van Aubel should still wear the Red Lions jersey for 2 years. “I made the decision to end my international career after the Paris Games in 2024. At that time, I will still think about my future in the club. So it was the perfect time to get started. I am really looking forward to discovering the Hoofdklasse. Tactically, the game is different from the Honor Division. The Dutch like players who are a little more technical and who are oriented towards attacking play. I also really want to play alongside Sebastien Dockier and Alexander Hendrickx and take care of my automatisms with them. It will be profitable for the Red Lions. Finally, hockey in the Netherlands, it remains all the same something special with the general enthusiasm that exists around the discipline. »
A healthy new start after a rather complicated year in several respects. “This season has been very difficult. I recognize that the recovery was very laborious after the gold medal at the Tokyo Games. Especially on a mental level. My whole life has been focused on this Olympic success and once you achieve this goal, you come back down to earth. Emotions are very difficult to manage. Life resumed its course with the Dragons and with the national team and I didn’t have the opportunity to really recharge the batteries. I was in mini burnout. But I continued my life normally. I didn’t play EHL in October. I have been sick. My body was just telling me that I needed rest. »
Ambitions but above all, always, the love of hockey
But the driving force for Florent van Aubel remains more than ever pleasure – “It’s when I’m injured that I realize how much I love this sport and how much I miss not being able to play hockey. The flame is intact and I want to continue to maintain it” – even if Pinoké’s future ambitions are real. This new chapter, the first abroad, even if the Ghent resident had already offered himself, in 2017, a 6-week break to play in the Hockey India League, under the jersey of the Uttar Pradesh Wizards, alongside Arthur Van Doren, will again allow the striker to demonstrate the full extent of his talent. Especially after a dark season with the Dragons who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009 but above all an end to the championship and spoiled farewells with his supporters following his concussion which made him miss the last 3 meetings. But there is no question of lamenting for Florent van Aubel who already has his eyes fixed on his future and on this new experience which will certainly take him to new heights.