Photo: STEP / Barbora Reichová
Three years ago young Czech men succeeded, now girls have followed suit. What are we talking about? About the gold medals won at the European Youth Olympic Festival! The new success of the national women’s under-18 team was recorded by its new coach Dušan Andrašovský.
Andrašovský came to the team last fall and due to the cancellation of the World Championship he has only now completed the first big event with the team. She got the sweetest ending right away. Hockey players of the Czech years 2005 and 2006 brought well-deserved gold medals to Finland’s Kajaani!
In the base group, they confirmed the role of favorites against the Swiss and the Hungarians. But they received the highest praise for the final duel with the Swedes. They could already manage it in base game time, but in the end they celebrated it after an incredible 80 minutes of play and split raids.
We’ve talked enough about the matches in the group, and they certainly haven’t tested you as much as the finals. How satisfied were you to have played the match against the powerful Swedes at such a level?
We are certainly very happy with it. We have proven to ourselves that if we give 100%, we can play with the best rivals in Europe. We may not have that kind of performance, physical or skillful, but again, I think if we can find and sell that heart and that team, we have better than the other teams. We told the players to keep in mind that there are six on the ice, but they have the support of the rest of the team. To feel it on the ice. They took it like that and that’s why I thought we were so strong mentally.
“We really did and deserved it, both with his good performance and with the enormous perseverance and desire to win at all costs.”
I dare say the first two thirds of you were very good.
We were a bigger percentage of the game better. Maybe we should have won the first half 3-0, and we would have played completely differently. We had a clear tutu there, the opponent had no chance and when he shot on goal, Míša (Hesova) she caught it with great clarity.
But then you let the Swedes ride horses. Weren’t you afraid that after leveling, the match will turn on your side and you won’t come out of this “cover” anymore?
We lost the rhythm, maybe we started worrying about the result for a while. It was panic on the switch. We tried to calm him down with a quick time out and tell the girls it was just a game. But at the same time only the winner will go down in history. It was necessary to put the maximum, several girls blocked three or four balls. It was tears, pain and bruises. Hats off to the team. At the time when we were in a panic, the girls only prevented it out of self-sacrifice. We really got it and deserved it, both with his good performances and with the enormous perseverance and desire to win at all costs.
I really didn’t expect extra time to take twenty minutes. A lot of players probably won’t know that in their entire career… We’ve known it since the extra-league playoffs, for example, but it must have been a huge unknown for the girls. How did they handle it?
Even some extra-league players will not play such an extension. I played maybe one thing in my whole long career… (smiling) Especially when playing four, such an extension usually decides because someone makes a mistake. We were better in overtime, we had three or four chances, while the opponent had only one.
And the only goal scored by Zikmunda Mazancová was enough for you in the raids. Because Michaela Hesová closed the door…
I told Martin how the raids happened (Puskovi)that now it’s clear (Laughs). I knew at least one girl would score, and I thought Misha wouldn’t. He is able to concentrate and gets the goal hard. I was completely calm and just waiting for the girl to be so mentally strong and bear the pressure. I remember when I was riding the raids that there were nerfs, even though it’s not a title.
“When I see his performances, his enthusiasm, his commitment, his love of sport and how she gives her all, the girl is somewhere else. Mentally and physically, he is the prototype of the perfect athlete.”
Míša Hesová has a Youth Olympic Games raid in Lausanne, where she scored twice from two attempts by the Swiss and we retired after the group. She certainly had the motivation to enhance this Olympic experience now, didn’t she?
I overheard a colleague talking about it. But I said to them, “Listen, don’t tell me anything. I have known Míša since the last preparation before the World Cup when she was in Třemošná, and I was not afraid of that at all. When I see her performance, her enthusiasm, her commitment, her love of sport and the way she gives her all, the girl is completely elsewhere. During these two years, she made progress, as if it were five years. Mentally and physically, he is the prototype of the perfect athlete. If we had twenty, we could talk about wanting to play the World Cup final (smiling).
The result is excellent on the one hand, but on the other hand it comes from a small sample of matches. What do you think he showed on this generation of girls?
He confirmed what we discovered in December during a triple match in Finland. That if the girls are doing their best, they can focus and we will prepare them to play to the limit or beyond their ability, so they can play a top match against physically and skillfully better opponents. That they can play them. We have our system and a playbook, it works perfectly when the girls can play it and we have enough strength. We must often replace these strengths with heart, determination and courage, because there is no sport to fear.
So it’s a lot about the head…
Yes, if we achieve that, then we are better against the Swedes or the Finns. It shows us that we have talented girls and good individuals, but also that we have bad training, little physicality and no good club training. If we want to take women’s hockey to the highest level, we have to start working conceptually. What Tomáš Pacina has put in place must be continued. Hockey has increased terribly in these two years under his influence, and I will be happy if it continues even in the absence of Tomáš.
Do you believe that this positive face will apply to your 18 years for the rest of the season, when the year 2004 “comes back” and you prepare for the World Cup?
In 2004, there are team leaders that we didn’t have now. The girls tried to deal with their absence, but when they come back, we will be stronger again. I know we have something to build on going forward. The girls of the sixteen, who came four new, did not disappoint – on the contrary, they were all very surprised. If I’m at another job, I look forward to it, because there will be something to build on. And if the will of the higher echelons supports it, I think we will have something to look forward to.
Photo: Timo Mustonen, eyof2022.fi
The championship awaits you in June, what do you expect by then?
Since the girls won’t be on the ice, we’ll try to have as many campsites as possible. At least short so that we keep the girls in a certain way, because they are not old enough to be able to go on the ice by themselves, and enough experience to be able to train by them themselves. We’ll give them a blueprint, but we have to see them and work with them on both the physics and system stuff.
It will undoubtedly be difficult to ideally prepare for a big event during this period, especially when freelance work is not in your blood. I guess it will require the coach to stand above the players with an imaginary whip, even from a distance…
What you suggest is certainly true. During our meetings, we already knew that the girls arrive at our house in a completely different state than they leave. They will arrive unprepared. It’s due to the level of competition, maybe training, maybe they don’t work as hard as they could. They have information from us, as well as videos from fitness trainers, but unfortunately I’m not sure they all have it. When they arrive, it takes us about five days to get into classical physics. Now it’s just in the final… (smiling) We might not have to deal with it at all if we had more resources and time to prepare. But the situation is what it is, you have to deal with it. But if we want to be competitive in the future, we have to improve these things. We will try.
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