Triple World Cup winner Margot van Geffen joins Sarah Juggins for an honest appraisal of the Netherlands’ victory at this year’s FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup, Spain and Netherlands 2022.
It’s been three consecutive FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup wins for Netherlands now, how do you reflect on the World Cup winning performance in the latest edition?
It was a different year for us. We had some lows and some very high, highs! Looking back, it has been amazing. It was a tough year but we peaked at the right time. Very proud of the team that we won the World Cup together.
People looking from outside just see you winning the previous world cup, then the gold at Tokyo 2020 Olympics followed by all the matches you won at the FIH Hockey Pro League, and don’t realise all the changes in style and personnel you’ve gone through. Did it feel like a huge release to go to the world cup and gather pace and win the event?
Yes, I think so. Because we didn’t play our best this season, it was a rollercoaster. We didn’t play like we know we can play and we know was in us. So, it was a bit frustrating that we couldn’t show to the world how well we can play. But our last game at the World Cup was our best game and now we know it's still in us and we can build towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. So, yes it was a bit of a relief for us.
With the great mixture of new and senior players in the team, do you think the newer members of the team now understand what it is like to hit the peak at the World Cup and is that something that they needed to see to understand what it means to play in the Dutch team?
Yes, some young players are getting into the team and playing really well, but they now get that it is not easy to play in the national team with all the pressure it brings. It was a good experience for the 8 players that played their first ever World Cup. It was a good mixture of youth and experience, and they got to play on the highest level and win.
The goal scored in the finals by Felice Albers in the finals was peak Dutch Hockey. The confidence given by the rest of the team in defence allowing her to sprint in attack and score, was really something great, wasn’t it?
I get goosebumps every time I see it. It was nice playing tiki-taka hockey, starting from our own corner with just singular touches between Maria and Eva, passing to Freeke and she plays it to Felice. It was a wonderful goal. A team goal, where you defend well and then you attack with everyone, and that was a brilliant moment for us.
With Netherlands we often see you start the tournament quite calmly securing 2-goal 3-goal wins building up momentum for the later parts of the event. Do you feel confident that it is a process you manage each event?
It does sometime happen that we start with 2-0, 3-0 wins at the start of events and we feel that we should be scoring more and smashing all our opponents, but we review our matches after every game, and talk about things that went well and how we can improve in the next game. We believe in ourselves and we tell each other, that better performances are coming later. We take it step-by-step and grow as the tournament proceeds forward.
This World Cup was unique in the sense that there were two legs for you essentially, playing the first half of the event with the home crowds backing you in Netherlands, while the latter half was played in Terrassa, Spain. How did that feel?
It was quite different. Especially because our home crowd is so amazing. Every time we stepped out on the field, I would look around and think this is the best thing you can get as a player. All of our families and friends and the Dutch crowd filling up the stadiums, it was great for us. We would watch games on TV that were happening in Terrassa and the stadiums weren't at full capacity for some of the games. But the finals with a full stadium was amazing again, with a mixture of our fans and Argentina fans. It was a lovely atmosphere.
Argentina had a really good game against Germany in the other semi-finals. Watching that game were you thinking, they probably peaked during that match against Germany or were you thinking, they look really quite good now?
We were thinking we feel fresher and they might be tired after that intense game, so let’s go for it. We love playing against Argentina. So, we were just thinking in our heads that we are ready for this.
We know that Marloes Keetels, your captain, has now retired. This was also a 3rd world cup win for you personally. There was an emotional feeling for everyone at the podium, that we could see, what were the team emotions at the end? Was it different, maybe more special this time?
Yes, because we had had a tough year and we chatted a lot this year. When there were no games, we were still chatting and getting together again. So, when we came to the event and won it, it felt special, because we felt like a such a close team now and we are looking to go further and further.
How did you celebrate? Was that a typical Dutch celebration that night?
Yes, we went to a club in Barcelona and partied and it went on well into the morning. So, yes it was a pretty good one.
So, what comes next for you? Is it going back to camp or do you join your club?
It’s back to the clubs for us, and the competition starts on the 4th of September, so we go into the pre-season preparing for that. We have received our instructions which are to go back to the clubs and we will start national team trainings from October again and prepare for the Pro League games in December. So, August and September are with the clubs and from there we move back to the national team training in October.
You’ve been in the Dutch side now for over a decade, making your debut in 2011. With the Dutch team, you are among the best of the best for so long now. What drives you on? Is it the love of the team, or love of the sport? What makes you want to stay at that level?
It’s a bit of both. I love playing in the team, the process and the team building we do. And also I love the game. I switched clubs and I was a little worried about how that would be, but now I’m with my new club and I am like a little kid again and I think this was the right move for me. I just love the game and I love being an athlete.
For more information about FIH and hockey in general, please consult FIH.hockey, follow the FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – and download the Watch.Hockey app.