Loïck Luypaert: A Lion that spits Dragon fire!

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Who is Loick Luypaert?

I’m 23 years old, I play for Kampong SV and the Belgian National Team as central defender. I have 105 caps for Belgium and around 20 goals. I live in Utrecht and Antwerp. I’m studying a bachelor in physical education and movement of science and started my master in sportmanagement this year.

 When and how did you start playing Hockey?

I started playing hockey when I was 4 years old when I joined my cousins at a hockeytraining at Braxgata hockeyclub. I was immediately sold to the sport and kept on going to the trainings. My parents never played hockey and didn’t even know the sport but pretty soon they got involved and started to love the sport as much as I do.

 Did you had any hockey idol growing up?

My idol was probably Teun De Nooijer when I was younger, I got the chance to play against him once and that was the EHL final against HC Bloemendaal with KHC Dragons, also his farewell game. It made a strong impression on myself to play against him in his last game, a true legend of the game.

You won the ‘Golden Stick’ for talent of the year in 2011 but eventually missed the London Games in 2012, how was that period for you?

Everything went well for me in my hockey career until the non-selection for the OG in London 2012.

At age 18 I moved from Herakles to KHC Dragons, we became back to back Champions of Belgium in first two years, in 2012 we won the bronze medal in EHL.

London would be a dream coming true. I thought I worked hard enough for it and I deserved it to be selected.

Once we started the preparation I received the really clear message that it would be difficult to get in the squad because of several reasons. I kept on believing in my dream and trained until the last training before the selection was announced with the team but I never really had the feeling that I really had a chance to be selected. I was devastated and thought about quitting the national team to focus on my studies. After a bit of soul-searching in France on a surfing trip I decided to continue my hockey journey and really live for my sport to reach my targets.

A few years after my non-selection for the Olympics I can say this was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, I really started thinking about my game and what I wanted in my life and my career after I got dropped. It made me realize how privileged we are to play for our country and how hard you have to work for it. I also got to know myself better after this setback. It made me to what I am today as a person and a hockey player.

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 Belgium is now one of the worlds top hockey country in terms of national team and also domestic competition, how was the process and how do you see the future?

The progress in Belgian hockey started years ago when the Belgian federation decided to put more money and effort in the youth program. Also supported by our both governments and the Belgian Olympic Committee the funding went up and so did the level of our national team.

We had some good results in the past on European level in the youth competitions, all the players that joined our squad the last years have beaten the best countries of the world during their time in the youth national squads. Mentally that makes a big difference compared to a few years back when nobody had beaten Germany, the Netherlands or England.

The popularity of our sport also grew enormously over the years thanks to the good results of our national team. More and more clubs are having a professional policy for their first men’s and ladies’ team.

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 Still having a strong domestic competition with clubs like Waterloo Ducks, Dragons, Daring, Leuven, some of the top Belgian players like you, Tom Boon, Thomas Briels decided to play in the Netherlands. Why? Is that an advantage or disadvantage for Belgian Hockey?

Belgian players leave our domestic competition for several reasons, but I can only talk for myself. I manly left because I wanted to develop my game more and play in another environment after five successful and awesome years at KHC Dragons. I really like Kampong as a club and team and I felt I could grow more as a player and as a person in this environment in these two years before Rio. For the Belgian competition it would be better if all our Red Lions would play in Belgium but it’s a personal choice and there are also other factors involved.

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 Can you describe your training week and how do you prepare yourself to be at your best for both Kampong and national team?

It’s a pretty easy question. I live for my sports every day of the year; we nearly have no days off. I had some trouble with injuries over the past few years so I learned to take care of my body.

Every time I step on the pitch with Kampong or with Belgium it’s to be at my very best!

 What do you want to achieve in the future?

I hope to still play many years at the highest level and hopefully injury-free as long as possible.

On the short term I would like to become champion of the Hoofdklasse with Kampong & play the EHL final 4. With Belgium we will need to qualify for the Olympic Games of Rio in July so that is our major target this year!

If we qualify for the Olympics of Rio, my biggest goal is to perform at my best level ever over there.

Playing as a defender who was the most skilled attacker you played against?

I definitely played against a lot of great strikers, not a lot left a big impression but the likes of Christopher Zeller, Glen Turner and maybe Nick Wilson are a few steps ahead of the others. In the Belgian team I think Thomas Briels and Florent Van Aubel gave me a few nightmares with their skills.

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What would you like to ask to yourself?

Why did I not become a professional football player? 😉

Loïck Luypaert

@loluy25

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