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The key to success for Tom and Jill Boon: passion

In recent times, Belgian hockey has found fame on the international stage for its successes against the best nations in the world. 

Here’s an interview with two players who represent our country in the sport, with flying colours: Jill and Tom Boon. 

Did you know that both devote themselves to related projects, in parallel with their careers as athletes?  Jill co-founded MWFUND.be, an organisation which promotes access to sport for underprivileged people.  Tom, for his part, organises hockey training camps for children aged 6 to 17 years in various different clubs in Belgium and in other countries. 

Sport allows you to experience some exceptional moments

Sport plays an enormous part in their life. 

Tom“It has enabled me to experience some exceptional things, and I reckon my work will give me many more opportunities to do that too.  I’m really happy with the way things have gone so far, and I hope that’s going to continue!” 

 Jill“It’s an opportunity to earn my living through hockey!  Even if that lifestyle sometimes involves sacrifices, you experience the kind of emotions that you don’t find very often in everyday life.” 

A childhood dream come true

For them, spending every day on a hockey pitch is a childhood dream which they’ve managed to achieve. 

Tom“I dreamed that since I was quite little.  Even though it didn’t really exist at that time.  So early on, the opportunity that I’ve had was something I had to believe in.  Nobody knew how far hockey was going to develop….  I trained really hard and continued to believe, and finally that paid off.  Today, my loved ones are the first to tell me that I was right.  I’m one of the best in Belgium and today, my childhood dream has come true.” 

JillGenuinely, it’s passion that makes the difference in achieving your goal.  Without that, you might as well stop.  The key is that you love what you’re doing.  I believe you can really see that when you watch us play.” 

Two striking memories

Tom“The medals ceremony at Rio.  It’s almost indescribable as an experience.  You find yourself on the podium and your emotions are in total confusion.  In a fraction of a second, you think over everything you’ve experienced, everything you’ve been through, the good times and the harder ones.  The time I decided to give up my studies to devote myself to hockey, thanks to the support our parents gave us.  All those times which ensured that you’d find yourself on that podium at the Olympic Games.  It was a very powerful moment.” 

Jill“This summer with our first silver medal at the European Cup.  In recent years, the team’s nerves were really put under strain.  We’d missed out on the Olympic Games at the last moment…  That was the first time we succeeded in breaking the vicious circle of defeat at last.  Finally we had that little piece of metal round our necks.  It all made sense: why we’d carried on, why we hadn’t stopped training hard.  That was a boost which gave us such incredible energy for months and months.” 

Aspria: a complete experience

TomAspria gives me the chance to train in perfect conditions.  The sport relies a great deal on working out, but it’s also about relaxation and feeling well.  In a centre like Aspria, you have the luxury of being able to combine the two: a variety of training platforms and a wellbeing space at the same time.  Sometimes I come along to Aspria after an intensive training session, just to relax.” 

Jill“It’s really comprehensive.  It’s more than the training or the relaxation; I’d add that it’s about recovery and also good and healthy food.” 

Everyone has their motto

Everyone has their own mantra to motivate themselves at important moments, whether that’s during a match or in private. 

Jill: “It’s a beautiful day and I can see it.  For our first Olympic qualification, our coach at the time asked us to visualise our dream and to believe in it.  If you can visualise things, you’re aware of the moments when you’re experiencing them and you can achieve what you want.  It’s something I apply in my life choices, every day, and it helps me live life to the full.” 

Tom: “For me, it’s more about something which kept coming back before the matches at the Olympic Games in Rio.  “The pride of the shirt”.  Our coach talked to us about the opportunity we had to wear the colours of Belgium.  We gave our very best to show that we deserved to wear that shirt on the pitch.”