SCHC’s Heerbaart looking forward to latest Den Bosch battle

When Alexandra Heebaart drew her own club SCHC to face one of their biggest Dutch rivals, Den Bosch, in the Women’s FINAL8 of the EHL, there was plenty of wry smiles in the camp.

It will be one of the highlights of an action-packed weekend at the Wagener Stadium as the current Dutch Hoofdklasse leaders from Bilthoven face up against 2021 champions.

“When you play in the EHL and an international tournament, you don’t really expect to play another Dutch team first up!” Heerbaart said following the draw. 

“Apart from that, we are super excited to be a part of the EHL in general. Good news but a bit surprised!”

The two clubs have built a big rivalry in the past seasons, meeting in the Dutch championship finals last season – Den Bosch winning two out of three fixtures – and also in the Gold Cup decider. 

This term, SCHC won their league meeting in September and have only dropped two points in the Hoofdklasse to hold a three point lead over the winter stop ahead of AH&BC Amsterdam and their EHL rivals.

“We know Den Bosch really well – they have a lot of quality but we have played each other a lot of times in the last year in the Hoofdklasse and the Gold Cup. I can say they are always tough matches and a lot of rivalry and we know each other well. 

“The EHL will be a nice experience for the players who haven’t had experience internationally before although that isn’t too many right now! As a club team, it does make it special but we play every game as something on its own so we will prepare it and then hopefully play international teams later on.”

For Heerbaart, it will be a first European outdoor club competition although she has played indoors with SV Kampong in 2016 in Minsk and 2017 in Wettingen. 

During her youth in Belgium – with Dutch parents – she did get a flavour of the EHL while at KHC Dragons before making the switch as a teenager to Kampong and then subsequently linking up with SCHC in 2019.

“When I was 17, I really wanted to take a step up with club hockey when Kampong asked me to join them. I played there for seven years. We strived for the playoffs but it didn’t work out in the end so when SCHC asked me to join, it was difficult because of the time with Kampong but easy in terms of performance. I am really enjoying it and have found my way here!”

For now, indoor is very much centre-stage. She was the number one for the Netherlands in December at the European indoors in Hamburg, winning a silver medal, while she is hoping to reprise her 2018 World Cup goalkeeper of the tournament role in February in South Africa.

After that, it will be a short run-in to a hectic outdoor club season with the EHL high on the agenda.