Loïck Luypaert: ‘I think this is the best Belgium ever’

We know them from oats to barley. They have often come across at important moments in recent years. And they will be in front of us again on Thursday. The Belgians. A title holder, who is aware of his own abilities. But in the meantime also works to achieve an optimal level. Routinier Loïck Luypaert talks about the state of affairs at our southern neighbours.

Luypaert did not have a preference for an opponent in the semifinals, when Belgium qualified for the semifinals on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours ahead of the Netherlands. ‘The top five in the world – the Netherlands, Germany, India, Australia and us – are about the same level. Those teams can all beat each other if they have a good day. For example, a week and a half ago, the Netherlands had a good day against us in Wilrijk.’

The Unacceptable Slip

He himself already makes the bridge to the slip in the Pro League. The Netherlands went into the den of the (red) lion with a 4-0 victory. A result that hurt Luypaert and his teammates. ‘I’m not going to lie: it took a while. We are the world and European champions, aren’t we’, he says with a proud smile. ‘We don’t have to compete with anyone. And our standard is very high. Then it is not acceptable that you lose at home with those figures. We did learn a lesson there. Of course I’m not going to tell you what lesson that is.’

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Luypaert in action against Spain, where Belgium won 4-2. Photo: Willem Vernes

The former Kampong player is willing to share what struck him that day. ‘The Netherlands was then very sharp in the duels and in the counter. We were not well. Of course you take that with you to this European Championship.’

But at that European Championship, Belgium lost again in the second game. Also England, not a team that belongs to the world top, turned out to be a size too big for the Red Lions. ‘After the break, we stood with ten men for fourteen minutes’, Luypaert looks back. ‘That’s something to learn from. Stopping the corners didn’t always go well either. Such things together cost you a point at the end of the ride. That indicates you are not there yet. We are building our ideal game image. To compete for the medals. At this European Championship and in Tokyo.’

From global sub-topper to world champion

Luypaert has been with the national team since 2012. Experienced the growth from global sub-topper to world champion. He expects his team to continue to get better. ‘Although that is difficult to measure. At the Rio Games, Arthur was the youngest of our group at 22 years old. The youngest is now 24 years old. So we are older and have played together even longer than then. In addition, good guys have arrived, such as Arthur De Sloover, Victor Wegnez and Antoine Kina.’

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Photo: Koen Suyk

“I think this is the best Belgium ever. But… it’s no use to us if others have gotten better too.’ With a smile: ‘I can’t promise that we will win this or the next tournament. But we are better at hockey than during the previous Games. We have more quality.’

It wasn’t long ago that people in Belgium mainly thought of ice hockey when thinking about ‘hockey’.Loick Luypaert

The outside world has started to look at the Belgians differently because of the European Championship win of 2019, the world championship of 2018. ‘Yesterday, for example. I was asked if I was sorry that we lost our first place in the world ranking. I don’t care, but it does say something about the image.’

“Hockey has been going strong in the last ten years. Now everyone knows the Red Lions in our country. But it was not long ago that people mainly thought of ice hockey when thinking about ‘hockey’. We want to continue the line we have set. There is still a title missing.’

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