In recent years, national coach Max Caldas has often stood by the side of the field in South Africa, Australia or Malaysia during the traditional winter training period of the Orange Men in shorts and a t-shirt. How different is that next week, when the temperature is expected to be a maximum of two degrees and the thermal clothing, hat and gloves are needed to get a little warm in the windy Wagener Stadium. ‘We are flexible and adapt to it,’ says Caldas.
That flexibility is part of performing at the highest level, the national coach teaches. Due to the roaming coronavirus, that flexibility is required more than ever. Time and again he had to adjust his training programs in recent months. ‘That applies not only to us, but to all countries. I have a lot of contact with other coaches. They all have their own problems. I will see how they deal with that, but will not compare. I rely on our own strength and try to ensure that our preparation is as optimal as possible. ‘
In that preparation, Caldas had long harbored the hope that he could travel abroad with his team. Various scenarios and destinations have been reviewed recently: South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands and Germany. Piece by piece they fell off. The option for the covered field in Mannheim was only crossed out two weeks ago.
Caldas: ‘We have looked for opportunities, with respect for the applicable rules. Germany was an option until recently. Interesting, because we could also practice against Germany twice. But that option was eventually dropped because we don’t want to run any risks. ‘
‘Bovendeert has taken steps’
Caldas has a group of 25 players at its disposal for the next week. Jelle Galema, attacker from Den Bosch, is no longer part of that training group. He was told last week that his chances in Tokyo are so small that it makes no sense to continue training with the Olympic training group.
His place is taken by Roel Bovendeert. The Bloemendaal attacker last played for the Orange squad in April 2019, but now still has a chance to make it to Tokyo. Bovendeert owes this choice to, among other things, his performance as a potential at Orange in recent months. Caldas: ‘Roel showed that he has made progress in his hockey. He is not only good in the circle, but is also more connected with the rest of the team around it and has his value there. ‘
I told Roel that in recent years I may have looked too much at things that he cannot do well.Max Caldas about his conversation with Roel Bovendeert
Caldas recently spoke extensively with Bovendeert, before deciding to bring the striker back to the Orange squad. ‘Roel and I always had a good click on a personal level, but professionally that between me as a coach and him as a player was not always there, so he often dropped out in recent years. I told him that, like the other players in the group, he has a real shot at Tokyo. But those words don’t have much value if he doesn’t feel that way. Then it wouldn’t make sense to bring him in. Roel indicated that he does have that feeling, but he also realizes that he can still lose weight for Tokyo. I’m happy about that, because I like to have him there. ‘
From the 25 players in the current training group, Caldas ‘normally’ compiles his selection of 16 players who will play in Tokyo. That does not alter the fact that other players can join the Orange in the coming months, says the national coach. ‘We have a very busy schedule, especially in May. With two days after the play-offs all the Pro League games against New Zealand, then a double encounter with Australia and a game against Belgium. Shortly afterwards, the European Championship will start in early June.
During the busy period I may also need to call on other players than the 25 who are now in the group.
‘As a staff, we have to monitor the players very closely during that period. That means not only following the hard data, but also the soft data by having conversations with players about how they feel and how they are doing. Ultimately, we have to make sure that we show up in Tokyo with a fit and sharp selection. In order to achieve that, it may therefore be necessary to call on other players than the 25 who are now in the group during that busy period.
The national coach can draw on the potentials , a group consisting of players from the Dutch Juniors and better players from the Dutch big league who are no longer allowed to participate in the Dutch Juniors due to their age. These potentials have frequently trained with the Orange training group in recent months. They will now return to their clubs to prepare for the restart of the Tulp Dutch Major League on January 31.
Caldas: ‘We will continue to follow them and keep them engaged. With the club coaches in the lead, we give them a program to do extra physical work. At certain times, ‘hockey incentives’ are added. In this way we try to further narrow the gap with the Orange to ensure that they can connect again and can be used in Pro League duels. ‘