Never before has FIT reached the last four of the Silver Cup. In any case, it earned the team from Amsterdam the first prize of the season: a ticket for the Gold Cup for next season. But the only remaining second division team in the second cup tournament wants more. ‘We are now so bold that we want to grab that cup,’ says coach Stijn Schellart.
That task will not be easy. The last hurdle on the way to the final of the Silver Cup is Rijswijk tonight. ‘We are looking forward to it and expect a nice atmosphere at Rijswijk. A real hockey party. I also expect at least a bus full of fans to support us. As a team we are relaxed about it. It’s going to be a tough game, but we won’t turn our backs on that.’
This season, FIT’s cup adventure started in the fourth round. Third division Woerden was put aside in that round, after which first division Alkmaar, Bennebroek and Forescate were defeated. Last Friday, the team from Amsterdam were too strong for fellow second division team Mezen in the quarterfinals.
With a place in the semi-finals, FIT reached further than last year. Then the team reached the quarterfinals by eliminating defending champion Alphen, among other things. The way to the last four was eventually blocked by the later winner Houten.
In the collective memory
‘The home game against Alphen was legendary’, Schellart remembers. ‘Due to the combination of the atmosphere and the result, this game has been recorded in the collective memory of the club.’
Schellart is in his second season as coach of Heren 1 at the club where he started at the age of twelve and played in the banner team between the ages of sixteen and 21. ‘FIT is a great club with a casual atmosphere. It’s a mixed group of people. Everyone is valued. The free, casual atmosphere has become a club culture. As a team we have a lot of love for the club and each other. I think that’s an exception in Amsterdam.’
Most players who now play in Heren 1 have moved on from youth and live in Amsterdam-Noord, or in the vicinity. ‘It doesn’t get more Amsterdam than FIT,’ says Schellart. ‘Due to the development of Noord, more people are coming from outside, but the door is not being trampled down.’
One of those Amsterdam exponents at FIT is star player and club icon Pieter Zwart, with whom Schellart played together about ten years ago in Heren 1. ‘Pieter is a player who could have played at a much higher level. He makes moves that you don’t see with most in the big league. Love for the artist is a winged term at the club. Pieter is such an artist. In addition, he has a devastating drag push. But he has always remained loyal to the club because he wants to play hockey with his friends. If he wasn’t there, it would be a loss. Fortunately, we can always count on him.’
Black will also be there tonight when the team is on the threshold of the final. Schellart believes in a cup success for FIT. ‘As a team we have a very good mix between players who have been playing in Heren 1 for fifteen years, for example, and boys who still play in the O18. We should be able to reap the benefits of that. The stars are right now. This is the time.’