Kampong’s De Vilder dreaming of big EHL run

SV Kampong are gunning for a second EHL Men’s title this week after they blew the competition wide open with their memorable win over reigning champions Bloemendaal last October.

Jip Janssen’s 52nd minute rocket fired them to a 2-1 win, ending their Dutch rivals three-year hold on the Alain Danet Trophy in dramatic style.

For Derck de Vilder, it was a formative moment: “We wanted to win that one really bad. We know Bloemendaal so well, played them a lot in the past few years and know a lot of them from the national team.

“The games are always close and very tough, decided by little details but this was a different kind of game – a knock-out match in Barcelona, it was really strange – another venue, another city far from home.

“But, in the end, it’s just a hockey game. Maybe it was even bigger because we wanted it really bad to play in the FINAL8 so we were very motivated and that win gave us a lot of confidence.”

It means a FINAL8 date with Belgian champions Gantoise and a more on-field role than a year ago when he was present at the EHL with dual interests – his ambassador role with the Hockey Dreams Foundation and also supporting his brother Morris, playing for Pinoké.

The Hockey Dreams Foundation – also a partner of EuroHockey – will once again be present in the EHL village, collecting sticks to aid their mission. All visitors who have old, unused sticks are encouraged to drop them into their collection point at the FINAL8.

“They want to help young kids and people in Africa through hockey,” de Vilder explains. “They teach people how to become hockey trainers and how to build strong personal values and work in a good environment, to be respectful of each other. They make a difference through the power of sport and hockey.

“It is very helpful for Hockey Dreams to be there, collecting sticks and be a part of EuroHockey because it is international. It is well known in Holland but not that much in Europe yet so it is a very good partnership. I hope a lot of people will stop by in the village and drop in their sticks!”

As for the supporter role to Morris; both grew up at Pinoké and so the connection was extra strong: “Of course, you want to be there and play! But I am a brother and want to see him play well and cheer for him at his first EHL.

Kampong’s Derck de Vilder en Saartje donate old hockey sticks to the Hockey Dreams Foundation at last year’s EHL FINAL8. Picture: Koen Suyk/World Sport Pics

“Last year, Pinoké the became champion. When I played, we played for the bottom places [in the Hoofdklasse]. Afterwards they shifted and got some momentum, sitting near the top of the league and playing for every trophy. They are now one of the top teams and it is great to see!”

The shape of the draw means they could potentially meet in the GRAND FINAL on Easter Monday.

Kampong’s draw is a tough one, facing Gantoise with either Rot-Weiss Köln or Royal Léopold in the FINAL4 should they advance.

De Vilder says his side are in good shape for the challenge; he described last week’s 1-0 win over Rotterdam as their best performance of the season and they backed it up with a Gold Cup semi-final win and a 3-1 success over Den Bosch.

“All eyes on the EHL on Friday and we are very excited to start against Gantoise.  “They are one of the best teams now in Europe – a lot of international players from Belgium, France and Ireland. Overall, they are really good and it is an exciting match-up. We will see but it will be a tough match.”