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07-30-2007, 03:02 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: The Netherlands
Country: Netherlands
Posts: 71
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Originally Posted by Chinstrap View Post
My questions:
1) Who's the best Dutch player right now?
2) Why isn't hockey more popular in Holland?
3) What does the future have in store for Dutch hockey?
Lots of difficult questions; I'll give you my humble opinion on them

ad 1. Who the best hockey player is depends on who you ask. Personally I would say Tommie Hartogs is the best active player. Ron Berteling is probably one of the best Dutch players ever; he still played a couple of games for Amsterdam last season at age 49. Tony Collard ranks pretty high too. One of my personal favorites is Tommy Speel, who could have gone a long way if his study hadn't stopped him from playing abroad.

Please do take into account that I am not counting Canadian born and trained players with Dutch heritage. Otherwise I would have to take into account players like Joe Nieuwendyk and a bunch of others.

ad 2. Why isn't hockey more popular? The eternal question... First of all football (or soccer) is extremely popular in The Netherlands and utterly dominates the media. There is hardly any room for other sports; the small sports that manage to get attention are dependant on the personal preferences of tv-makers and presenters. The funny thing is that hockey gets fantastic tv-ratings when broadcast during the Olympics; proof that there is plenty of potential for the sport.

Secondly it is a relatively expensive sport to play in The Netherlands. The number of rinks is low and icetime very costly. There are very few parents who are willing to fork out the money for contribution and kit when they could also send their kid off to play football with only a pair of footballshoes to invest in.

Thirdly the youth development programme has not always been optimal. Since a few years there are Hockey Academies, where youngsters can combine school and hockey. These sort of initiatives will help foster young talents and allow them to keep playing their sport.

These are just a few of the causes, but I feel they are key factors.

ad 3. The future of hockey here? That also depends on who you ask... Personally I think fostering youth and marketing the game more aggressively are vital for the long term prospects. Other countries have succesfully upgraded their youthplans, closing the gap between juniors and top level. Improved marketing of the game will also help attract people to play the game and others to come watch it. More spectators equals more corporate interest, which equals higher budgets, which equals better players and a more attractive league. It all seems so simple when I write it down...

This year our top division will, hopefully, consist of seven teams. That is the most it has been for years; only a few seasons back we had just four. There is good hope that Utrecht will join the top flight from the first division next season, which would bring the total to eight. Despite all the problems surrounding the game in Holland I am cautiously optimistic. If we could just get some coverage on tv...

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