Hockey in Belgium!

Some insights about the current ‘state of grace’ of Belgian Hockey and their recipe for success by JOHN BESSELL – Performance Analyst for the Red Lions (Men’s Belgian Hockey Team )


I have been a professional hockey coach since 2001 and Performance Analyst with Belgium Hockey since 2009. My playing, coaching and performance analyst careers has taken me all over the world.

I have found a great home here in Belgium throughout the past 4 years! Hockey is on the rise and rise.

My current roles within the Belgian Hockey Federation include the Performance Analysis of the Red Lions (Men’s Team), U16 Boys Coaching Staff and more recently Head Coach of Royal Leopold Hockey Club. All fantastic jobs that complement each other well. I have a broad view across different areas of hockey in Belgium!

The Red Lions when I first arrived in Belgium (2009) where ranked 13th in the world. Now 4 years later we are ranked 9th, with finishing 5th at the London Olympics.

My role with the Men’s team has grown throughout my 4 years with the team. Collecting footage and delivering detailed reports on individuals, teams and concepts that could help Belgium succeed match to match. I work as part of a super staff that combine very well. Each a leader in their area.


What is the reason for success?

The Vision

A long term vision put into action before my arrival to Belgium, not just building the top teams in Belgium but developing sustainable pathway programs from Youth to Senior teams; Good staff (Board members, Administration, Medical, Physical, Mental and Coaches) and Players who are exposed weekly to top practices are becoming more and more professional with their mindset and behaviours on what it takes to achieve success in hockey.

The Feeding Ground (BeGold Youth Program)

The BeGold Program (Belgian Youth) is a program that runs weekly throughout the entire year. Players in each age division are selected from provincial trial matches and taken into the program. Each year that I have been here in Belgium the quality is getting better and better at these province tournaments. The relationships with the clubs and the Federation has grown meaning a coordinated approach to player development.

Players in the BeGold programs get to look forward to weekly training, specialist camps throughout the year and international match exposure at different tournaments across Europe. The developing players in 2009 when I arrived are now starting to filter into the Red Lions. The quality of these athletes can be seen by all!

The Belief and Support

Definition Belief – trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something). $

I can honestly say that after working in other programs in professional hockey, the Belgian Hockey Program has the right recipe for building success.

Players, Staff members, Supporters, Sponsors and Clubs across the country all stand behind and drive the decisions the“people of power” make for the benefit of hockey in Belgium.

This keeps Belgium hockey moving in the right direction for success.

Of course good results make belief and support grow within the program and country.

I hope to show in this small article that it is not by chance Belgium hockey is on the rise and rise. It has good vision, program structure and hard work from all involved leading to success. Regardless of results in Rio 2016 Belgium will be well placed for the future in hockey!!

John Bessel


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