Ten days ago the Red Lions flew over to Australia to start a training camp. Last Friday the Red Panthers joined them 'Down Under', to prepare and play their first FIH Hockey Pro League games against host country, Australia.
The Panthers will take their time to adapt to the time difference and temperatures. In the first few days, the intensity of training will gradually increase. The Belgian women will also play a training match against the provincial team of New South Wales, before starting the new Pro League season against Australia on 25 and 26 January.
After that, the trip will continue to New Zealand for two games and finish in China, before returning home.
25/01 AUS-BEL 06:00 (Belgian time)
26/01 AUS-BEL 05:00 (BT)
1/02 NZL-BEL 05:00 (BT)
2/02 NZL-BEL 03:00 (BT)
8/02 CHN-BEL 07:00 (BT)
9/02 CHN-BEL 07:00 (BT)
All these matches will be broadcasted live on Play Sports and VOO Sport.
The Pro League matches in Belgium are scheduled from 15th May to 28th June in Antwerp. You can find the detailed program HERE.
Tickets are available online!
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NATIONAL COACH NIELS THIJSSEN: "IT'S GOING TO BE A NEW START FOR US!" The disappointment after not qualifying for Tokyo was huge. However, the Red Panthers need to work on a new future as from now. Head coach Niels Thijssen explains: "Of course, this disappointment is not yet completely behind us. But we have to react and start building again. How we react now and what we do, is what will define our future."
In December, the group mainly trained physically. Then, at the beginning of January, they started a new period together. "First physical tests had to be done. After that, we were able to do some on-pitch sessions. Of course you have to get used to being together again, after everything that happened. But the energy was very intense and positive from day one," says the Dutchman.
DIFFERENT AMBITIONS THAN LAST YEAR FOR THE PRO LEAGUE
In the first season of the FIH Pro League, the objective of the Belgian women was to finish as high as possible in this new competition, in order to progress in the world ranking. But Thijssen sees things very differently for this second edition: "Compared to last year, we now have different priorities. This year should not only be a year of transition. We want to broaden our core and grow each player individually. So we're going to offer more playing time to a larger group of players. The results are of minor importance to us. If a larger group of players gets more playing time than last year, and there is a visible personal development of the players between January and July, then our goal will be achieved. During this trip, we will clearly discuss these individual goals with each player. This can range from hockey, lifestyle, mental development and leadership."
The national coach also wants to comment on the critical situation in Australia due to the severe bush fires. "The situation in Australia is, of course, very serious. The health of the players will always be a priority, we won't take any risks. Based on the information we have and the Red Lions' initial experiences, we believe we will be able to run a normal program for the most part. It's a huge disaster, the scale of which is hard to imagine. We will join any Lions initiatives that may be taking place there and, if possible, we will of course show our support and commitment."