The Dutch Hoofdklasse competitions return on Sunday for the first time since March with fresh faces and fresh hopes for a new season.
The women’s league starts the action at 12.45pm (CET) with five matches with leading lights Den Bosch hosting Victoria, the former being labeled by hockey.nl as the favourites for the title.
Laura Nunnink is a marquee addition to their team and she joins a team with world class strikers Lidewij Welten and Frédérique Matla continuing their fearsome front-line partnership.
AH&BC Amsterdam’s date with HGC has unfortunately been called off due to positive tests for coronavirus in the Amsterdam camp with the game pushed back to midweek.
Amsterdam have seen Charlotte Vega and Kimberly Thompson retire over the summer while Kelly Jonker goes to Pinoké following the birth of her first child with Freeke Moes, Hester van der Veld and Fay van der Elst coming in.
At SCHC, coach Lucas Judge’s first challenge is the visit of Bloemendaal to Bilthoven. Club legend Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel has stopped, putting more emphasis on the likes of Caia van Maasakker and Yibbi Jansen who offer probably the most fearsome corner battery.
Sunday’s other games see Oranje-Rood face off against Laren with Pinoké taking on Kamping and HDM meeting Hurley.
The men’s competition has a new sponsor in Tulp and all their first round of games take up their usual 2.45pm time slots. Reigning champions Bloemendaal are unbeaten since May 2019 and they could be even stronger now with Jorrit Croon and Floris Wortelboer both available after injury for the tenure of coach of Rick Mathijssen. Their first game is against Almere at home.
SV Kampong are always contenders but will have a new coach at the helm for the first time in many years with Roelant Oltmans taking over from Alexander Cox.
Young talents Derck de Vilder, Bram van Battum and Silas Lageman are big prospects to go with key figures like Robbert Kemperman, Bjorn Kellerman, Jip Janssen and Sander de Wijn. Their first challenge is against an ambitious Klein Zwitserland who have brought in a number of new faces including the EHL’s second highest goalscorer Marco Miltkau.
Among the challengers, Den Bosch did enough last season to earn a place in the EHL Cup for the first time and Eric Verboom’s side will aim to a playoff contender but Joaquin Menini (Rotterdam) and Sebastién Dockier (Pinoké – Den Bosch’s first opponent) have moved on.
Rotterdam have rung the changes with Mark Ingram, Sean Murray, Hugo Inglis, Kilian Pöhling, Blair Tarrant and Kane Russell finding pastures new. Thijs van Dam will be a key figure along with Justen Blok and Tjep Hoedemakers.
Their opening game is a big challenge at Oranje-Rood but the Eindhoven side will miss the corner cannon that is Mink van der Weerden whose debut in the German league yielded two goals for Rot-Weiss Köln.
HGC meet Tilburg and Amsterdam face Hurley in a local derby, kickstarting a potentially thrilling season of one of the world’s best leagues.