Pinoké men’s head coach Jesse Mahieu has been conferred the Order of Merit from the club following a lengthy contribution to the Amstelveen outfit.
He joined the club in 1998, briefly leaving for AH&BC Amsterdam, and also played for the Dutch national team. He returned in 2008 as captain and went through the range of highs and lows as a player and then as coach.
The turning point was the playouts five years ago in Nijmegen, surviving the drop and the road has been upwards ever since with the 2022 playoffs for the Dutch championship title the highlight, “an explosion of pride and fun for the entire club”.
It reaches a new dimension next week with Mahieu leading the club to host the ABN AMRO EHL FINAL8, with a debut fixture against Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles.
On the field, he saw his side return to the top four when they beat HGC 2-0 last Sunday with goals from Florent van Aubel and Alexander Hendrickx.
For the latter, it was his first goal since returning from the knee injury sustained during the World Cup. He was wearing strapping on his leg but reckons he is getting back up to speed quickly.
“The tape is shaped like a cruciate ligament,” Hendrickx said to hockey.nl. “That’s purely as extra protection if someone bumps into it. Last week, it was packed thicker so that is also going in the right direction.”
He is delighted to be back, admitting it was hard to be on the sidelines and not make a direct contribution with a stick.
“Maybe I found it even more difficult not to participate here [than with Belgium]. At Pinoké, my own contribution and impact is greater than with my national team. I tried to offer a little advice from the sidelines.
“But I didn’t interfere with the corner. Each cornerman has to make his own choices. I’m not going to say to Miles Bukkens: you have to push there. He has a good corner with a dirty feint.”
On the case of Bukkens, he was surprised not to see the young striker included in the latest Dutch international selection and feels Pinoké should have more names included on that front.
“When I saw that new names had been added to Oranje panel, I was honestly surprised that I didn’t see Miles. I also think it’s absurd that last year’s runner-up and this year’s play-off candidate aren’t delivering any players to the national team.
“I would think two or three of our boys would fit in with the training group of the Dutch national team. Miles can make quick steps in my opinion. Lonnie [Marlon Landbrug] can do it too. And Hidde Brink is a good keeper.”’