The Red Panthers are in a rebuilding phase. After failing to qualify for the Olympics a year ago, the staff decided to focus on the future, educating emerging talent and building a close-knit team that can handle all conditions. The ambition is to develop a solid Belgian team that is able to surprise at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.
To make this happen, some changes have been made recently:
To start with, Tim White will be the new assistant to national coach Niels Thijssen, replacing Simon Letchford who left a few months ago. Tim White is from Australia and has coached the Australian Women’s U21 for the past four years, winning a bronze medal at the last Junior World Cup. In recent years he has worked hard to prepare the young talents as well as possible to become complete and competitive athletes for the A-team. Tim White about his appointment:“I am delighted to be able to participate in the Belgian national women’s program and to work with Niels and the other staff members. I have been closely following women’s international hockey over the years and have always considered the Red Panthers as a team full of talented and promising athletes. I look forward to working with the staff and players! ”
In addition, as you could see during the last Hockey Pro League games, some new recruits from the Young Red Panthers (U21) have entered the A squad. Vanessa Blockmans, Anne-Sophie Roels, Hélène Brasseur and Shaunda Ikegwuonu will continue to train with the Panthers. Together with them, France de Mot and Agathe Willems are included in the same program, with a view to developing our young talents. These new “test players” will therefore train with the A-team until the end of this year, before returning to the U21-core, who must also try to achieve goals in 2021. But they will continue to enjoy a specific development environment and will be closely monitored by the staff of both teams.
Unfortunately, the integration of new players also means the departure of others.
The Red Panther staff have made the difficult decision to no longer integrate Joanne Peeters into the core of the national team. “We are aware that this is never pleasant news, both on a sporting and personal level. Especially since Joanne has been a member of the Red Panthers for some time. But in view of the upcoming European Championship and the young guard knocking at the door, we have to be honest with her by explaining that we no longer count on her for the future of the Red Panthers ” , says national coach Niels Thijssen. “We are extremely grateful to Joanne for everything she has done for the team over the years and for her exemplary mindset! We wish her the best for the future! ”
In the coming weeks, the Red Panthers will continue to train in preparation for their next big challenges: the Hockey Pro League in May 2021 and the European Championship in June 2021. And of course this will be done with total respect for the health measures in force.