Who is Tom Hiebendaal?
I am 21 years old and I am a Dutch hockey player. I grew up in The Hague and moved to Amsterdam 2 years ago to study law at the “Vrije Universiteit”. I played one cap for the Dutch National team and hopefully there are much more to come!
When and how did you start playing hockey?
I first played football and tennis. I loved both sports and I combined it with hockey for 4 years. My parents, brother and sister were playing hockey at Klein Zwitserland and HGC. After a football game I always watched my family playing. That is how I rolled into hockey. I chose to quit football and only play hockey at KZ and tennis. My whole family is supporting me since the beginning of my career.
Who is your Idol?
Teun de Nooijer, I watched him playing when I was young.. He has got all the skills you need on the pitch. I played a couple of times against him with HGC in the Dutch league, he was extraordinary. When I become 12 my brother won the Dutch penalty stroke championship, he won a clinic from Teun de Nooijer and he offered it to my team back then.
You won in the season 12/13 the award for talent of the year in the Dutch competition Hoofdklasse after some amazing goals and performances. When you look back, how do you remember that season and which advice would you give not only to Dutch youngsters but young talents all over the world?
My best season so far. I made 12 goals and I decided some matches for HGC while I was still 17/18 years old. I played with a free spirit. I did not have any expectations and neither had the public. That year the team of HGC was outstanding but did not get the best results. Barry Middleton was one of the players who played at HGC that year. He is one of my favorite players to play with; we had/have a good connection. He understood my game so well. He was one of the main reasons I had such a great season that year.
My advice to all of you is to play always with a free spirit. Of course you can make mistakes; in fact you have to make mistakes. Don’t put pressure on yourself and just play the game you love. Your biggest friends are your teammates. They can make you better in- and outside the field. For example you can practice skills, hitting, trapping or just talk about tactics with them. They will benefit if you become better and score the winning goal for the team.
How is playing for HGC one historic club in Dutch competition currently with a team with several international players from different countries like New Zealand, Spain, Argentina and Netherlands?
HGC is together with AHBC Amsterdam the only club in the Dutch history of hockey that never relegated and always played in the “hoofdklasse”. So it really is a privilege to play for this club and we are building to become a top 4 team again.
We have got a great squad with Dutch internationals and young talents, but we have also big players from Spain, Argentina, Belgium and New Zealand. Gonzalo Peillat (also known as ”Acha”) is our weapon because of his massive corner. Our main language in the team is English, that’s because there are 5 foreign players. Phill Burrows,Shea Mcaleese, Bosco Perez Pla and Roc Oliva are four foreign players who are very important for us because of their tactical skills and experience. Furthermore i can learn a lot from those players and it is an honor to play with them, but eventually you have to do it without foreigners.
Special moments in your career so far?
I think one of the special moments until now is making 12 goals in my first year. That same year I played with the Dutch National Team U21 a European cup. We lost the final against Belgium with shoot outs. The year after, we became 3rd at the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in India. That was my first big tournament with other continents. Last year we won the final against Germany with 5-2 in the European Cup. It was a special moment, because we lost the semi’s in Delhi at the Junior World cup against them. After the European cup I have been selected for the Dutch National hockey team and I made my debut in Cape Town against South Africa. 2 months ago I have been dropped from the squad, to be honest that was quite tough. At the moment I am focusing on my studies and on points of improvement in my game. After the Hockey World League in Argentina I will be back in the team and I will fight for a spot in the team for the European Cup in London.
You were one of the main players in the last U21 Dutch generation but the step to the senior national team means a different level. What are the main differences?
Probably three out of 20 U21 players will make the Dutch squad directly. Your chances will increase while you are playing with U21 because the spotlights are all over you, but it is not a given thing that you will automatically make it to (make) the Dutch squad. The biggest differences between the Dutch team and U21 are the speed of the game, the level is higher in all areas of the game, physically tougher, players are faster and there is more body contact allowed.
It is just obvious when you are playing with and against the best players of the world.
What is your current situation regarding Netherlands national team?
As said I am not selected for the HWL; I have to work on some individual skills. My dream and ambition is to be selected for the Olympic Games. Is it realistic? Maybe not, anyhow I will give everything to make my dream come true.
If you would play any other sport, which one would it be?
I love to play tennis and golf, but I think I would choose football. I have been a pretty decent ball sports player. I was scouted for Feyenoord and Sparta, however this was not the life my parents wanted for me.
Do you imagine yourself trying a different hockey country, club? Which?
My heart lies at HGC. First I would like to focus the next 1, 5 year on HGC. We will see what the future brings.
What would you like to ask yourself?
Would I make it to the Dutch national squad if I still was playing football?
Below the link for video that shows the 12 goals Tom scored during his debut season 12/13 in the Hoofdklasse: