Is The Netherlands Good At Field Hockey? We Find Out

March 14, 2021

I have been a great sports fan my entire life, and I can’t imagine my life without the sport. I love hockey because the game is fast-paced, passionate and teamwork is necessary, so it’s never boring. In the Netherlands, hockey has changed from an elite sport to a sport that can be practiced by everyone. Over the past decades, the Dutch have achieved some noteworthy successes at hockey tournaments. But “how good is the Netherlands at field hockey?”.

The Netherlands is one of the best hockey countries in the world. Hockey is one of the most popular and widely practiced sports in the Netherlands. They have won numerous international tournaments. Several players from the Netherlands have been awarded in the past as the best player in the world.

What has the Netherlands done to make themselves known for their hockey talents? The Netherlands wasn’t just that good overnight. In this article, I will tell you everything about Dutch hockey, the players, and which prizes have all been won.

How Good is The Netherlands at Field Hockey?

First, let's say that it is ultimately a personal opinion whether you think the Netherlands is good at hockey or not. But as a great sports fan, I dare to say that the Netherlands is one of the best hockey countries in the world, for both men and women.

If we look at the successes achieved by the Dutch hockey clubs and the national hockey teams, we can only conclude that the Netherlands is one of the best hockey countries in the world.

The Netherlands has been at the forefront of international hockey for almost a century now. For example, the Dutch men's hockey team already won the first Olympic medal in 1928, and since then managed to win many more Olympic prizes, but more about that later.

We don't have to go back that far in time for the first Olympic success of the Dutch women's team. This is because women's hockey did not become an official Olympic sport until 1980. But since their first participation in 1984, the Dutch women's hockey team has won no fewer than 8 Olympic medals.

In addition to the many international awards that have been won by both the Dutch men's and women's teams, many individual awards have also been won by Dutch hockey players.

Since the introduction of the prize in 1998, no fewer than sixteen Dutch hockey players have won the prize for best player in the world. In total, six Dutch men's hockey players won this prize, and ten Dutch women's hockey players.

After reading these statistics, I assume that you agree with me that the Netherlands is absolutely among the top of international hockey.

Is The Netherlands Good At Field Hockey - Hockey player in stadium

Why is The Netherlands Good at Field Hockey?

It is great that the Netherlands has had so many successes, but they did not happen overnight. They have worked very hard and have also faced setbacks.

But all the players that grew out to be some of the best players in the country, all had to start somewhere. One of the reasons why the Netherlands is so good at hockey is because the sport is very popular in the Netherlands. 

There is always a hockey club near your home, which means that hockey is easily accessible for children and families. Children can join hockey from ages as young as four years old. Because there are so many people that join hockey, there is a higher chance of discovering young talents.

As of today, there are 323 hockey clubs and a total of 255.000 members in the Netherlands! This puts hockey in 6th place of the most popular sports in the Netherlands.

Hockey clubLocatedMembers
KampongUtrecht3232
HC TilburgTilburg2447
HC Den BoschDen Bosch2439
HC RotterdamRotterdam2383
PushBreda2376
HC LeidenLeiden2252
LeonidasRotterdam2226
Amsterdamsche Hockey
& Bandy Club
Amstelveen2286

These are some of the biggest hockey clubs of today. They are only growing, and there are still new hockey clubs being formed in the Netherlands.

Another reason why the Netherlands is so good at hockey is that children have the opportunity to develop themselves and to become even better. At every club, there are different teams for each age category, in which the first team is obviously the best. 

But if you stand out there as well, you can be scouted for a team in one of the 4 districts in the Netherlands (North, South, East, and West). There you will train with the best players of your age in that district, but you will keep playing at your own hockey club as well. 

The very best district to join for young talents is “Jong Oranje”, which is basically the national Dutch team for young adults. The ultimate team is the National Dutch team, in which the best players of the country play.

Another reason why the Netherlands is so good at hockey is that due to the popularity of the sport, everything is organized very well and professionally.

Every player can train at least twice a week, and the first teams sometimes train three times a week. In addition, from the age of 7, you play a match every weekend on Saturday or Sunday, something that greatly benefits development.

The many opportunities to play competitive hockey are also an important reason why the Netherlands is so good at hockey. There are many competitions so that everyone can enjoy playing matches and also apply what you learn while training in an official match.

All this together ensures that the Dutch hockey teams have achieved great successes in the past and will probably continue to do so in the future.

Is The Netherlands Good At Field Hockey - competitive hockey

What Rules Apply to Hockey in the Netherlands?

The amazing thing about hockey is that it is an easily accessible sport and anyone can do it. The sport is set up in the Netherlands in different categories so that everyone has a place where he or she belongs.

There are teams for the little children from ages starting at only 4 years old. But also when you older, there are senior teams for people around 60 that can still join hockey. 

Trim hockey is perfect for those who do want to play hockey, but on a less serious level, or having no or little hockey experience. To make sure nobody is left out, in recent years, varieties of handicap hockey have developed. People who are mentally disabled can join G-hockey, and for people who are dependent on a wheelchair, there is E-hockey.

You can start playing hockey at any age and children will be categorized by age and level. 

There are 6 groups in total:

  • A from 16 to 18 years
  • B from 15 to 16 years
  • C from 12 to 15 years
  • D from 10 to 12 years
  • E from 8 to 10 years
  • F up till 8 years

The younger you are, the shorter the games are and the smaller the teams. The youngest children play three against three, in the E group with six against six or eight against eight while from the D group you start playing eleven against eleven. 

The field is also smaller when you are younger. The entire field is 91,4 meters long and 55 meters in width. When you are just starting, you only play at one-eighth of the entire field. When you get older, you start playing on one-fourth, then half a field, and from the D group onwards you play on an entire field. 

The duration of the game is just 30 minutes for the youngest children and the adults play 70 minutes in total (2 x 35 minutes).

Is The Netherlands Good At Field Hockey - hockey field picture

What are the Greatest Achievements of the Dutch Hockey Teams?

The Netherlands is very passionate and enthusiastic about playing tournaments, which is why they have won many prizes at both national or international levels. The Olympic Games and the World Championships are held every four years, the European Championships every two years. 

Men's hockey has been an Olympic event since 1928 and women's hockey since 1980. Since then, the Dutch men’s hockey team has won the gold medal twice and the women’s team won the gold medal three times. 

At the World Championships, the Dutch women’s team has won the title eight times! That in addition to the many other times where they ended second or third, proves that the Netherlands is excellent at playing field hockey.

Olympic GamesMenWomen
1984 - Los Angeles6thGold
1988 - SeoulBronzeBronze
1992 - Barcelona4th6th
1996 - AtlantaGoldBronze
2000 - SydneyGoldBronze
2004 - AthensSilverSilver
2008 - Beijing4thGold
2012 - LondonSilverGold
2016 - Rio de Janeiro-Silver
Rankings since women were allowed at the Olympics in 1980 (The Netherlands didn’t attend the Olympics in Moscow in 1980 because of different political views)

Who are the Most Famous Dutch Hockey Players?

Very hard work forms the basis of all the prizes that the Dutch hockey teams have won. To stay at the top, the Dutch players have to keep training hard every day. The players can only achieve and maintain this if they have passion and discipline for hockey.

The Netherlands has produced some of the world's best hockey players in the past, as well as in the present. Some of the best Dutch hockey players ever are: Ties Kruize, Teun de Nooijer, Taeke Taekema, Noami van As, Maartje Paumen and Eva de Goede. 

The most goals that have even been made in the Netherlands are made by Paul Litjens with 268 goals in 177 games. As for women, Maartje Paumen scored the most goals, 195 goals in 235 matches!

Below you will find a description of some of the best Dutch hockey players ever.

Ties Kruize:
Ties Kruize is a former hockey player in the National Dutch Team, who left in 1986. At 18 years old, he was allowed to play in the National Dutch team for men. He was best known for his powerful shot at goal. He got in a serious car accident in 1975, but he was able to play after only 18 months of recovery.
Clubs:
- De Haagsche Hockey & IJshockey Club
- HC Klein Zwitserland
Goals:
167 goals in 202 matches
First prizes:
- Europa Cup 1 (1979 and 1981)
- World Champion (1973)
- European Champion (1983)
- Champions Trophy in (1981 and 1982)
Teun de Nooijer:
Teun de Nooijer is a former hockey player of the National Dutch hockey team, who only started playing hockey at 9 years old. He stopped playing in 2013. He has been awarded Player of the Year three times. He has a total of 4 Olympic medals.
Clubs:
- Alkmaar
- HC Bloemendaal
- Harvesteduder THC
Goals:
214 goals in 453 matches
First prizes:
- Olympic Games in Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000)
- World Championship (1998)
- European Championship (2007)
- Champions Trophy (1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006)
Taeke Taekema:
Taeke Taekema is a former Dutch hockey player in the National team, who peaked at the Europese Championships in 2007, where he scored 16 times. He has played at the Olympics two times. He is best known for his powerful penalty corner.
Clubs:
- HC Leiden
- HC Klein Zwitserland
- Schaerweijde
- AH & BC
Goals:
221 goals in 242 matches
First prizes:
- European Championship (2007)
- Champions Trophy (2000, 2002, 2003, 2006)
Naomi van As:
Naomi van As is a former hockey player who has been awarded Player of the Year in 2009 and 2016. She is best known for her technique and unexpected speed.
Clubs:
- HDM
- HC Klein Zwitserland
- Larensche MHC
Goals:
48 goals in 229 matches
First prizes:
- Olympic Games (2008 and 2012).
- World Championship (2006 and 2014)
- European Championship (2005, 2009, 2011)
- Champions Trophy (2004, 2005, 2007)
Maartje Paumen:
Maartje Paumen is a former hockey player of the National Dutch team. She has been awarded Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012. After winning the second prize at the Olympics in 2016, she stopped playing hockey. She’s known for her ‘dragged’ penalty corner and she has been captain of the women’s National Dutch team.
Clubs:
- HC Geleen
- HC Scoop
- Oranje Zwart
- HC Den Bosch
- Royal Antwerp HockeyClub
Goals:
195 goals in 235 matches
First prizes:
- Olympic Games (2008 and 2012).
- World Championship (2006 and 2014)
- European Championship (2005, 2009, 2011)
- Champions Trophy (2004, 2005, 2007, 2011)
Eva de Goede:
Eva de Goede is the captain of the National Women’s team, and she’s been awarded Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She made her debut in a match at the age of 17 where she scored against India. At that point, she hadn’t even played in the first team at her club, which was very remarkable.
Clubs:
- Phoenix
- Schaeweijde
- Kampong
- AH & BC
Goals:
29 goals in 233 matches
First prizes:
- Olympic Games (2008 and 2012).
- World Championship (2006 and 2014)
- European Championship (2009, 2011, 2019)
- Champions Trophy (2007, 2011, 2018)

Learn more about sports in the Netherlands!

Conclusion

Hockey is a huge part of the Dutch culture, and the Netherlands wouldn’t be so good without all the great players I have mentioned. The Dutch have accomplished major achievements over the past decades, and they are still going strong. We can confidently state that the Netherlands is one of the best hockey countries in the world.

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Written by

Leo van den Berg
As a Dutchman I am extremely proud of the beautiful country in which I live. My goal is to convey my passion and love for the Netherlands to as many people as possible.

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