Aisling D’hooge – ‘The Panther’

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Who is Aisling D’hooghe?

I’m the goalkeeper of the Belgian National Team. I’m 23 years old and I always played at Waterloo Ducks.

How and when did you start playing hockey?

I was 10 years old. I really wanted to do a team sports and loved football.
My father was not very happy with me playing football so he suggested me to try hockey. Actually, it was a good decision because I directly loved the game and the mentality of the sport.

Tell us one unforgettable moment you had since you started playing hockey?

My official selection as 1st goalkeeper for the London Olympic games in 2012.
I was only 17 years old so it was a real honor.

As a Goalkeeper, what characteristics do you need to have to be on top?

Good reflexes, great understanding of the game, good communication but also not being afraid of getting a little pain (sometimes). You definitely need to be a bit crazy!

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What does hockey mean to you?

Everything! I play for the national team so everything I do is literally habing in mind what can help me to perform at my best. I started later than my teammates but since I started I did my best to become who I am.

In Hockey my teammates are like a second family to me. I learned a lot about myself and thanks to hockey I have learned so many good values.

What is the feeling of playing the final in Amsterdam against Holland and being nominated best goalkeeper in the competition?

It was an amazing moment there, we had the chance to play the Netherlands in the Netherlands(!) in the final.
We knew we were not ready yet to win, but why not trying… We just needed to have fun and believe on ourselves. We had nothing to lose. Winning that prize (best goalkeeper of the tournament) after was even more beautiful.
It was a long summer and I’m happy to finish with this good feeling.

Tell us a bit of the hockey Vibe in Belgium at the moment, between fans, players and clubs.

We had a big “hockeyboom” after London 2012 and even bigger after Rio 2016. Now we know there is more and more people that know hockey or play hockey. Hockey is getting really big in belgium, but I’m happy that hockey kept its simplicity, and is still an humble sport. That is the most important for our little strong country.

There are more and more fans but we also try to give the fans back what they give to us. Lots of joy and love.

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What are your future plans?

Train hard to perform at the World Cup and prepare us as good as possible for the Hockey Pro League.

Who are your favorite players?

Alix Gerniers!!

Last but not the least, have you got any ritual before or for the games?

I love to listen music. Old but gold hits: Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Aya,… Just songs that I can sing out loud. 🙂

Aisling D’hooge

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