These are special days for the women of the kampong. Thanks to the win against Rotterdam (5-3), they are above the relegation zone for the first time in ages. Meanwhile, Australian international Maddy Fitzpatrick bid farewell.
After their fifth win of the season it was fun as usual in Kampong’s dressing room. ‘Long Sal Zee Eleven’ echoed through the corridors of the changing rooms in Rotterdam. That changed for Carmen Wijsman, who turned 27 on Sunday. ‘We wanted to give her three points for her birthday,’ laughed Leidewij Weldon, who escaped the festivities. “You noticed the pressure in the game. We started the tension,” says the international, whose team scored twice in the first half but conceded six corners, one of which hit the ropes.
After the break, Kampong ran out 5-1. Against Rotterdam’s last two goals Falling so deep into the game, they are mainly of statistical value. Result: Kampong moved up from tenth to eighth in the right row where the teams are very close. ‘Not in the bottom three anymore, which is nice sometimes,’ laughs Weldon, who can’t remember being so high up since her transfer from Den Bosch. ‘Once the competition started, we could have been in a good position alphabetically.’
A more serious one: ‘Of course it’s great for the team. I learned that losing is not fun. But the process we experience together is special. Expectations were high and we didn’t live up to them. We get along well with each other, know each other well and what each other likes. Trust grows because we are close.’
Kampong has also lost an important soldier in the development of that rapprochement. Australia international Maddy Fitzpatrick, who was already announced with the drums in April, boarded the plane on Thursday. “She felt insecure about her place in the Australian team,” says Kampong driver Roderick Westhoff. “If he goes back, he can play more matches in the Pro League and show himself to the national coach. We were surprised and Not very happy With her decision. In any case, I don’t want to let someone reluctantly play hockey here.’
Weldon has been playing in the big leagues for about eighteen years. “But I’ve never experienced this before. We don’t have foreign players in Den Bosch. Maddy is definitely worried about her place in the team, which is focused on the Olympics next year. She’s worried about that, so it’s not good for her to be here. It’s a little crazy, though In the end Is it better for her? We said goodbye to her only last week.’ Laughing: ‘Then she got stroopwafels and licorice, which she didn’t like.’
The moment Fitzpatrick made the decision, with her sister Kendra playing Kampong in Girls 2, was remarkable. She didn’t choose during winter break, but after. With Kampong he played against Tilburg two weeks ago. “She didn’t participate much in that game,” said kampong coach Jeroen Schoenmakers. Maybe that played a role. But surely we would have heard this before or during winter. The time was chosen incorrectly. I think it’s very unfortunate for the team, but I understand her personal ambitions.
Fitzpatrick left for his home country after the first half of the season, as did many overseas players.
In the final weeks of 2022, she said at times that she wasn’t always happy playing hockey. The change of coach was difficult and completely new for her. I Skyped her a few more times. Those conversations did not show that she had any doubts. We could have saved ourselves a plane ticket. Besides, we were making plans with the team. She was also a part of it.
More than a house, a bicycle bank
Fitzpatrick will play elsewhere. ‘When he was away in Australia recently, he played with us in the center of the back. We didn’t do well in Kampong in the early stages either. We should have found her better. She is not professional in this situation, but we have to look at ourselves. We haven’t got someone in the top 3 in Australia like Kate Nobbs or Brooke Perris. That’s the downside of signing a player like that if you’ve got someone who’s worried about his place and wants to draw attention to himself.
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only foreign player to leave. In Amsterdam, Trent Mitton and Rupinder Paul Singh were suspended after the first half of the season. Maico Casella did not return to HGC and the same goes for Faisal Al Saari at Schaerweijde.
Schoenmakers: ‘Getting a player from another country is more than arranging a house, a bank and a bicycle. You really need some time to land someone from another culture. Time to understand each other’s habits and ground someone completely. There are whole scenarios for this in the business world. Getting used to a new country takes time, energy and money. These amounts are substantial, especially for someone from outside the EU. I don’t want to say that foreign players should not come, someone should be well-educated. Does he or she fit the team in terms of playing style and personality? I think sometimes we get over that too quickly.
It was another fresh experience in a tumultuous first kampong year for Weldon, who had only lifted the champion scales for years. ‘Down with hockey, a coaching change at your club, I’ve never experienced that either.’ She might laugh about it with some self-mockery and an eighth in her pocket. ‘I went there for new experiences, this season. Well, I got it too.’
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