David Harte – The best Goalkeeper in the world

UTRECHT-KAMPONG vs TOLBIURG-HOCKEY
UTRECHT – Hockey – keeper David Harte van Kampong tijdens de hoofdklasse hockeywedstrijd tussen de mannen van Kampong en Tilburg (7-0) . COPYRIGHT KOEN SUYK

Who is David Harte?

David Harte is a hockey goalkeeper from Cork in Ireland. The current Ireland Senior Men’s goalkeeper and captain with 161 caps on the ‘Road to Rio’ and is playing in the Netherlands with SV Kampong.

When did the love for hockey begin?

My love for hockey came unexpectedly in the high school I went to called Bandon Grammar School. I started quite late with hockey, I was I think 12 or 13 when I first decided to go into goal. I then joined a club called Cork Halequins as my first ever club…

Why goalkeeper?

I wasn’t enjoying being a field player and was seeing others try it out and it looked like a big challenge and good fun. I had been involved in a lot of other sports from racquet sports to football and rugby so I was lucky to use a transfer of skills from the other sports played like footwork, agility and hand to eye coordination.

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How do you define yourself as a player?

I would like to consider myself dedicated, fast, a hard worker, my own worst critic and always willing to learn!

Can you give us a glimpse of your weekly life?

Weekly life has changed for me somewhat this year having qualified with Ireland for the Rio Olympics. After Sunday’s Hoofdklasse matches I fly home to Ireland to join up with the rest of the Irish squad. We train twice on Monday plus a gym session and twice on Tuesday. A gym session Wednesday morning before flying back to the Netherlands. Thursday I train with Kampong twice (sometimes one training) then on Friday I train with my goalkeeper trainer Martijn Drijver at lunch time then the last Kampong training of the week Friday evening. Saturday is usually my only ‘day off’ in the week 

Are there other goalkeepers do you look up to? And if so, what makes them great goalkeepers?

There are of course many goalkeepers in world hockey I see as being incredible goalkeepers. From Stockman to Jacobi and Charter to name but a few and I say this because they at times are the difference for their own teams between winning and losing. What stands out in my mind as being defined as a great goalkeeper is making saves at crucial moments in matches but also making the simple but yet important saves that others may not see.

How do you combine being the goalkeeper of the ambitious club Kampong with the preparation of the Irish team for the Rio?

Kampong have been fantastic in allowing me combine both training with club and country. Naturally there is give and take between both club and country and finding the right balance when I need to be in the Netherlands preparing for a big double weekend or an exciting EHL weekend and returning home to be with the Irish squad, is key. I am very fortunate to have the support and backing of both my club Kampong and those at Hockey Ireland.

Which player has the most powerful shot in the world?

I wouldn’t be able to say exactly who has the most powerful shot in the world but I have trained with a couple of players from Roderick Weusthof to Michael Watt who can certainly smash a shot on goal.

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Best goalkeeper in the world coming from a non usual top hockey country, what is the meaning of that for you and for the Irish hockey community?

To be awarded the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year for 2015 was and still is a childhood dream come true for me! I am of course very proud of this but I would have to say it would never be possible without the fantastic Irish team and squad we have, especially after the 2015 we had. It is true that it is unusual for an award to go to a player from a country outside the top 10 but we also had Shane O’ Donoghue nominated as Rising Talent of the Year while our coach Craig Fulton won the FIH Coach of the Year award. This speaks volumes in itself and for the Irish hockey community it can hopefully only encourage the next generation of players and coaches alike to realise that anything and everything is possible.
Plans and ambitions for the future?
I hope to play in the Rio and Tokyo Olympics and the 2018 World Cup with Ireland while going as far as we can with Kampong – having played and lost in last year’s final I want to become Champion of the Netherlands while picking up a medal at the EHL. Once my playing career is finished I could go into teaching Physical Education and Biology in a high school but I see myself perhaps involved as a goalkeeper trainer to a national team or involved in some national sporting body working with elite sports people, which really excites me.

Fans questions:

When you want to achieve the top you search for reference players to emulate. When you reach it, where do you draw inspiration from in order to stay there?

This is a good question and I must say honestly I do not think I am yet at the top of my game yet. I constantly want to improve and become a better goalkeeper and a better David Harte! My constant inspiration is in line with the clichéd saying of ‘be better than you were yesterday’. I see other keepers doing things around the world and think to myself this could be something to ad to my own keeping too. The inspiration is all around us you just need to look in the right areas 

How would you explain the development of the Irish team in the last years?

I could only describe the development of the Irish team in the last years as revolutionary. How it has come about is due to many things but it all begins with the hard working coaches and players within the Irish Hockey community not just recently but over many, many years. Individual player’s choices to go and ply their hockey trade outside Ireland has also helped a lot. Player’s decisions to challenge themselves in the best leagues in Europe and to try and live a semi-professional/professional hockey lifestyle has added enormous value to the Irish team. All of this and more added with being so close on numerous occasions to qualification for major tournaments fuels the drive and passion shown by the Irish team.

What are your thoughts on nutrition? Do you follow a food plan whilst preparing for the olympic games? If yes, how strictly do you follow it?

I see nutrition as a huge part of a sportsperson’s life. Our bodies are essentially like machines that need to be fuelled correctly to get the best out of them. While preparing for the Olympics we are fortunate enough to have an excellent sports nutritionist who works closely with our squad and ensures our diet is more than sufficient to allow us to train as often and as hard as we do. I would say I am quite a good healthy eater and am conscious of what I eat and when I need to eat it but I am known to have a massive weak spot for chocolate! All things in moderation….

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David Harte

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