pinoké’s Van Hattum looking forward to dream come true

Pinoké captain Jannis van Hattum says it is a “dream come true” to be looking forward to a special EHL FINAL8 following a long time in the making for the Amstelveen club.

For much of his decade with the club, they have languished in the lower half of the Dutch men’s Hoofdklasse, only surviving relegation in 2018 via the play-outs.

Following their KO16 heroics in Hamburg, they now have a FINAL8 date with Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles confirmed for next Easter where they hope to break new ground as event hosts.

The KO16 brought EHL debuts for 15 players in their squad while half a dozen Under-21 players from the club making their mark.

And the 27-year-old van Hattum is looking to extend the journey even further when the next phase comes around.

“It has always been a dream to play EHL,” he said following last week’s draw. “Now we have realised this dream, of course it feels amazing. It being played at Pinoké is of course extra special. 

“I’ve been here for nine or 10 years and seen the growth we have made as a team and club throughout the years. A couple of years ago, we and the women’s team were fighting against relegation. 

“Now we are both competing at the top of the league. The club has been really supportive in that process and enabled us to get where we are now. Therefore it’s not only special for us as H1 to be playing EHL, but also for the entire club.”

Looking at their opponent, they meet a Belgian side also enjoying a special moment in their club history. Racing ended an 81-year wait for their national title last season to earn a place in the FINAL8 and van Hattum is relishing the challenge of meeting a new opponent.

“Considering it’s our first EHL appearance this season, any game against a foreign team is special. We could have also drawn Bloemendaal right away. 

“For me personally I’m happy we didn’t because we already faced them a lot throughout the years. Playing a foreign team is extra special for us because it’s a completely new experience. 

“Playing the reigning Belgium champion will of course be a big challenge, but a nice one. They have some world class players and we know little about them. So I think we have some preparations to do. Luckily we have some Belgium players on our side who hopefully know a thing or two about Racing!

“And since Brussels isn’t that far  from Amsterdam, I assume they’ll bring some fans along. Something else to look forward to, playing a big opponent in a great atmosphere!

“We’ played the national final last year and the club hosted it perfectly; we’ve got a lot of support from our fans. So I have no doubts they’ll put up a great event at Easter again. 

“Really looking forward to the FINAL8. First up; Racing!”