Hockey WC 2023: Terrance music with elite tune

Pieters says the federation is also helping drive this change by actively taking to the streets.

Published: 19th January 2023 01:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2023 01:23 AM   |  A+A-

Terrance Pieters

Dutch hockey star Terrance Pieters. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Terrance Pieters stands out while wearing the Dutch hockey jersey under the Bhubaneswar lights on Tuesday. He stands out even as he completes a sparkling team move in a training session. He stands out during a debriefing session. He stands out in a team huddle. Truth be said, he started standing out even before he decided to pursue an elite hockey career in The Netherlands.

It's to do with the complexion of his skin. Hockey is still seen as an elite sport in most European countries -- the 26-year-old Pieters is one of the few players of colour that the country has had at the elite level in recent memory -- so that perception has prevented the sport from growing in minority communities.

Pieters is well aware of this. "I get a lot of questions about it (his initiation into hockey and how his colleagues viewed him)," he says after the training session. "I started at a club in a city which is very multicultural. I knew I was in the minority group because of the complexion of my skin but it wasn't odd that I played hockey in the city (Almere, a short drive across Amsterdam).

"But when I travelled to other cities, we came across clubs from wealthy neighbourhoods, especially people in the Netherlands associate hockey with wealthy people... they associate with white people. When I was younger with my teams, we experienced that people looked differently at us or oddly at us because we had one or two from foreign backgrounds. But I see that is slowly changing." 

Pieters, who made his senior debut in 2017 (he has over 40 caps now), sees himself as being a vital component to change the mindset of the people back home. "I think it's slowly changing because the perception of hockey being a very wealthy sport is also slowly changing," he says. I also try to support the change myself when activities are happening in different neighbourhoods because I think it's a good way to grow the sport well." 

Pieters says the federation is also helping drive this change by actively taking to the streets. Throughout the years, there have not been too many people from other backgrounds playing for the Netherlands. I hope it will change. I can see that the Netherlands federation is trying to get to different localities and trying to get kids to play hockey. Hope that they can get to see a reflection of the population which is very diverse, we don't see that much yet at hockey. I hope that maybe me playing for the Netherlands will stimulate the change."

So, it's not a surprise to note that Pieters, born to an Indonesian father and a Surinamese mother, doesn't regret his choice of sport even if he wanted to be a footballer. "I got into hockey thanks to my sister who started playing it with a few of her older friends at school. I always wanted to be a footballer because, in the Netherlands, it's the biggest sport. My parents thought it was easier to have both kids at the same club... so they pushed me into hockey which I don't regret anymore. That's how I started.

"I started playing hockey when I was six. I always used to play football when I was outside with other kids. When I was at school, I always loved football. But I have never participated in a football club or a team."In Bhubaneswar, Pieters stands out. In the future, though, he hopes he doesn't have to.


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