Euro expert Cobbaert eyes Belgian breakthrough

An expert on the European stage at underage level, Mathew
Cobbaert is looking to help Belgium to continental glory on the senior stage
following his inclusion in Jeroen Delmee’s panel for London 2015.
He says he is “super happy” to be included in the squad for
this tournament “after the disappointment of non-selection for the World League
semi-final. It is a reward for the hard work I have put in the last few years”.
And the 22-year-old is ambitious
that good performances can help push his claims for a more permanent place in
the national panel after a glittering youth career.
He won the 2009 Under-18 Euros at
the age of just 15 with Michel Kinnen – the Royal Daring coach for the first
half of last season – giving him his chance. A bronze medal followed ay the
Youth Olympics in Singapore.
A year later, he won the Under-18
Euros for a second time with Philippe Goldberg – now the national assistant
coach – in the coaching role. It led naturally to the 2012 Junior European
Championship crown in Den Bosch.
“I had some great
memories with the youth national teams and learned a lot about the game thanks
to some world class coaches. Now we hope to get some titles with the men's
national team.”
In addition to the
national coaching, he has also benefitted at club level, impressing in the Euro
Hockey League.
“As a player of KHC
Dragons, I played already a lot of games at the EHL and it is a great
competition to compete in. It's a tournament where you play against world class
players that you will meet again in international hockey. With the Dragons we
can always do that extra to rise above our level.”
And now, Cobbaert is
hoping they can translate some of that magic to aid Belgium’s rise on the world
stage, saying it is time for Belgium to start winning major world-level titles.
“In the last 10 years, we
have grown enormously. In 2013, we got the closest ever to winning a title.
After that tournament the reputation of the Belgian hockey changed drastically.

“We went from underdog to
a respected competitor for the titles. As a team, we kept growing but the last
steps to the top are very small and very hard. It comes down to details and
perfection. With this motivated, coherent and fun group, we are a team to be
afraid of.”

Image Credit: Euro Hockey League/Frank Uijlenbroek. This image may not be reproduced without the explicit permission of the EHL or the photographer.