CALDAS BRINGS BACK DUTCH SPARKLE

Max Caldas in party mode with players Madrid 2006

Dutch hockey star Eva De Goede in a very recent interview has confirmed that the problems in the national team which led to an apparent collapse in morale in the national side last year have been overcome under the guidance of Max Caldas who has had seven months to work with the squad and made it a happier bunch as anyone who knows him might have expected.
Writing today and quoted on the very reliable source of hockey news from the Netherlands hoofdklassehockey.nl from Eva De Goede gave a frank appraisal of problems that had faced the national  team and which seem to have been resolved now under Max Caldas’s mentoring. Holland had been a dominant world force playing exciting attacking pacey hockey. The Dutch press were very critical after the defeat in the World Cup. They  theorised about why the team hadn’t brought home gold including getting all nostalgic for the batch of  “golden era” girls who had retired from the game such as the” pitch terrier” Fatima. One paper also waxed bitchily accusing players like Hoog and De Goede of being distracted by giving in to the demands of “babedom” and not being focused on their game which of course was absolute twaddle. Kruis was summarily dismissed as coach by the KHNB even before he had had time to offer his assessment of where the team needed to go to get back to form. He was understandably quiet in terms of offering to the press any explanation of why the team had failed in last year’s two major show downs. Janekke Schopman, who retired immediately after the world cup was very direct at Schipol when she announced to the press on landing ” We were beaten by a more effective team.”
Listening over the last year to officianados of the game , particularly from Argentina , including having on line dialogues with coaches, players and journalists about what set the current world champions apart from the rest of the world I formed my own view. Charismatic Coach Carlos Retegui makes huge demands on his players in terms of training commitment, , fitness and pitch skills and rarely neglects to mention the need to play as a tightly disciplined unit, for each other. But it really stands out how much fun the team have together even when absorbing the demanding programme that Retegui oversees. Instead of treading water as World Champions, Retegui sert out to re-inspire the team and to prepare to play even harder and better as the rest of the world would be trying even harder.  His assistant  Louie Barrionuevo was “retired” from the team staff after the World Cup but that departure also heralded the arrival of a new specific fitness trainer, Alejandro Labonia raising the bar even further.

Carlos Retegui

What the experts seemed to feel was that it was intense passion that was at the heart of the team and that the Dutch had become lacking in that area of their game. When it was announced that Max Caldas would be the new national coach of the Dutch women, I was very happy about that, especially as I’d met the guy a few times and had first seen him in his role as assistant to Marc Lammers at Madrid 2006 World Cup  but also working with the players as coach of Amsterdam H &BC.  Max also happens to be an Argentinian, an ex national hockey player. Experts speculated as to whether Max would be able to put the passion back into the Dutch team and concluded that even he could not. The truth is the Dutch never lacked passion or commitment , but they did seem to have lost the joy in playing . Max clearly has brought back the sparkle!
Personally there has never been any question in my mind that the players in orange kit  have always played with passion and commitment to equal any team but what was wrong last year? Eva de Goede says “The fun was gone-. there was much fuss, the atmosphere was not good. We talked more about each other than with each other, as women do. There were many groups. It was amazing that we were second. ” After the Dutch  said goodbye in 2008 by veteran Minke Booij, and Janneke Schopman captain’s retirement after the world cup hockey, it was time for a change of power said De Goede.  Marilyn Agliotti commented : “We will miss Janneke’s leadership qualities. But rejuvenation is also good and refreshing for the game. The locker room is now more relaxed. You see other personalities on the  up, like Eve, Maartje Paumen, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel and Floortje Engels. ” With the resurrection of new personalities and the addition of young talent, the joy is back with the group.

Max Caldas

Max Caldas is a fun guy and players, as I’d expect , found his innovative training very appealing. He introduced to training with golf balls to help develop agility and motor skills , but introduced players to an almost completely uncontrollable rubber ‘Z-ball’, which jumps all over the place. “We had a lot of fun,” says De Goede. According to Caldas himself these are just “nice, relaxing workouts” . but , admits De Goede, so demanding.”We have to constantly adapt, she added . “. When we take a break we leave the pitch laughing all the way. “
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3 Responses to “CALDAS BRINGS BACK DUTCH SPARKLE”

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