Saturday, June 15, 2024

Hockey Social: Belgium’s Nicolas de Kerpel

In our regular anything goes Q&A, we speak to players and coaches on topics ranging from temptations, influences, fashion sense and match teas. This time: Belgium and Red Lion Nico de Kerpel.

In association with Gryphon

What was your earliest ambition?
To be part of the Youth Olympic team in 2010. I’m a person who lives day by day but when I was 16 and we qualified I had a really big desire to make the squad. Winning the bronze medal made it a memory that I’ll never forget.

The event that altered the course of your life and character…
June 2016. Together with my best friend, I was ready to book my flight to South America for a trip of 4-6 months. That day I had a phone call from Shane McLeod. He knew about my plans but wanted to include me in the squad for after the Rio Olympics. I asked him for one week to make up my mind and after some reflection I decided to go to South America. When I phoned my friend he said that I couldn’t refuse the national team, so I changed my mind.

You wouldn’t know it, but I’m very good at …
Making fun of my mum and quick calculations.

The book that means the most to you and why?
Marc De Bel’s Blinker en de bakfietsbioscoop. Because it helped me with six different school assessments.

The film you can watch time and time again and why
Inglourious Basterds.

What do you do to relax or get away from hockey?
Quality time with my girlfriend. Play other sports with my friends. Rest on my sofa doing absolutely nothing.

Red Lions wait anxiously during the Tokyo 2020 shoot-out PIC: REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Do you have a job outside of hockey?
Together with my brother I have a podcast called Beyond The Athlete where we invite sports people. Until now we only did an episode in Dutch but we might do it in English in the future.

The biggest temptation you wish you could resist is… The whole candy/chocolate aisle in the supermarket.

What would be your priorities if you were invisible leader of your country for a day?
Give more budget to the sport community – better infrastructure, better trainers – and find a solution for the traffic jams in Belgium. And change the political system (it costs us a lot to achieve nothing).

And if you were the FIH chief for a day?
I would increase the promotion of hockey in countries where it isn’t popular yet.

The person who has influenced you most in hockey and why…
Shane McLeod, he changed me a lot as a hockey player! He believed in me and felt that he could make me better.

What has been your happiest moment?
Everyday with my girlfriend! But in hockey, of course our Olympic win.

And the saddest?
Losing the bronze medal game in EHL with my club (Herakles). I’ve been playing 25 years for them (14 in the first team).

What would you change about hockey for the better?
The interaction between players and referee is getting out of hand. I would try to find a solution for that because hockey is a gentleman sport and we don’t need to become the new football.

What is your best coaching tip for aspiring players?
“To become better you need to work everyday. To work everyday you need to enjoy”.

The prized possession you value above all others? My Olympic gold medal.

What drives you on?
Doing what I love the most, everyday, with my friends.

What stick do you use?
Gryphon Tour

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