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VLM Airlines to fly Belgian hockey hopefuls to Olympic qualifier

16th August 2007 Print
VLM Airlines will fly the Belgian men’s hockey team, with their new coach Adam Commens, to the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championships in Manchester, with the intension of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

On the eve of the championships, which run from August 18-26, this partnership has been agreed upon between VLM Airlines and the Royal Belgian Hockey Association.

The Belgian national men’s hockey team’s goal is to finish in the top three, which will automatically qualify them for the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

This will surely not be an easy task. Amongst the competing countries are three of the top four national men’s hockey teams in the world: Germany (reigning world champions), Spain (number three and reigning European champions) and the Netherlands (number four and vice-Olympic champions). In their opening game, the Belgian team will face England, who recently beat the English team 3-2 at the Hamburg masters.

At the Champions Challenge in Boom at the end of June, our national team was rather inconsistent with a win and a draw against the two tournament finalists, but losses in the four remaining games. It seemed too many individual mistakes in the back, and a lack of guts got the better of us.

In the meantime, the Belgian Hockey Association has changed its coach, with Australian Adam Commens being appointed as the new T1 at the beginning of July.

Adam Commens said: "I want to give the players more freedom in their game. They can be creative and play the way they want to, but when we lose the ball, I want a compact team with players ready to support each other."

Heading into the tournament, the atmosphere in the team is good. The staff and the players have a solid belief that they can keep the host England under control, and pull a stunt win against one of the major teams.

Should Belgium not finish on the podium, they still may have a chance to qualify through a tournament in 2008 against Chile, Japan and New Zealand. This will depend on their world ranking at the time, so should they fail to qualify at Manchester, the number of points they gain at there will still be very important for this reason.

The European Championship programme is available at