Hockey

Carrying on a Dutch tradition

TOP-NOTCH DRAG-FLICKER: Mink van der Weerden is inspired by the past greats of Dutch hockey and wants to emulate them. Photo : Sandeep Saxena  

For long, the Netherlands has been producing penalty corner experts par excellence and 26-year-old Mink van der Weerden is the latest addition to the elite league of players who have enriched the trade with their sheer brilliance and helped the Dutch achieve World and Olympic glory.

Mink, a silver medallist in the 2012 London Olympics and this year’s World Cup at The Hague, seeks inspiration from former Dutch short corner exponents and wants to replicate their efforts in leading his country to the top of world hockey again.

“There is a big tradition of penalty corner specialists in the Netherlands. These are the men who contributed to the team over the years with their great skills of scoring goals through penalty corners,” van der Weerden told The Hindu on the sidelines of the Champions Trophy tournament at the Kalinga Stadium here.

The Netherlands had dominated the international scene in the 1970s and 80s due to the fire power of its penalty corner experts such as Ties Kruize and Paul Litjens.

“The real kings of penalty corner were the two magnificent Dutchmen, Ties Kruize and Paul Litjens. The top scorer in the Munich Olympiad, Kruize was the hero of Holland’s historic success in the second World Cup in Amsterdam...Kruize was named ‘Thor’ after the Scandinavian god of thunder,” writes sports writer Ron Hendricks in his book titled Hockey.

“Litjens had lived long enough in the shadow of Kruize. He got his big break in the Montreal Olympics when Kruize’s injury kept him out. Litjens grabbed the opportunity. He was powerful and accurate,” says Hendricks.

After the duo, Netherlands continued to manufacture one great after another, including the devastating Floris Jan Bovelander and the most-feared Taeke Takema.

“All the guys who have played before are my role models. Taeke Takema, Paul Litjens, Ties Kruize, Floris Jan Bovelander — I am sorry if I am missing out any name. They have scored so many goals for the team and that was an important factor in Netherlands’ success on the world stage,” said van der Weerden.

The drag-flicker said he loved the nerve-wracking aspect of his job. “There is pressure in every match to score goals from penalty corners. But you love it and that is what you play for.”

van der Weerden said he would like to emulate his idols and lead Netherlands to some gold medals in elite events.

“I would like to contribute to the team’s cause and help it go ahead. We have won a couple of silver medals in the World Cup and Olympics. Now we are keen to take the next step and win the gold at the highest level.

“We hope to do well now with the new set up. We are going to train hard as we look forward to the Rio Olympics two years from now,” he said.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 3:26:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/carrying-on-a-dutch-tradition/article6686645.ece

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