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Paul Hammond interviews Erwin Roos, member of the Dutch national team and player on the infamous Deventer team from the Netherlands. Interview originally conducted over email by Clyde in July 2003.


Clyde: You're around 32 years old I think, it seems like you've been around forever. How long have you been playing?

Erwin: Hi, Yes I look old but I am only 30 (31 in July) I have been playing polo since 1984, next year 20 years of polo. I enjoyed everything about it, that makes it a bit easier to keep on going. I have had some injuries but came back stronger. The years passed by very fast and I want to say to everyone, enjoy your sport now.
Clyde: Sorry. I guess not everyone is as old as me !

With the Netherlands having one of the most respected and admired National teams in the world, how has the World and European Champs gold medal eluded you?

Erwin: I played 5 Europeans and 5 worlds to win a gold medal and we failed all times. When I first heard about Europeans and World championships I asked a friend, canoe sprint team Holland, how to prepare. The gold medals are one of the reasons to take canoe polo as a job and not as a sport. A big contribution to a gold medal is a kind of promotion.

Clyde: The Deutschland Cup in Essen has always been a tough competition, but over the years you've enjoyed great success there like many other top events. Do you think it's the seriousness of the World or European Champs stage that mounts up the burden of pressure, or that perhaps the other Nations rise to it better?

Erwin: First of all we always feel a bit at home in Essen, we are very welcome and yes we won the tournament 6 or 7 times since 1991. We never won Mechelen until last year but Charleroi was always much more our tournament. It is strange that that you win one tournament easier than another. Right now I feel more comfortable about the Europeans than Mechelen this weekend. If you have been close to success it is getting easier to really find success.
Clyde: What's the greatest moment of your career so far?
Erwin: Two silver medals is something special. Scoring 16 goals in one game, can’t do that again. Playing for St. Albans and travelling around Great Britain was lots of fun. Scoring a lot in Australia ’96 was great. My problem is that I am always learning and I do not enjoy moments (I want to and have to do that). In Essen we drew against Italy and drew the French in the last 30 seconds. We won silver but we could have ended up 5th. Scoring 16 goals in one game and no goals in Brazils final says something. We became 6th in Australia with all my goals at the wrong moments again.

My biggest moment was saving the team and scoring a goal against the French. During the game I thought about how to score now, from the sides was hard so it had to be trough the middle. Such a good goalie, a ball was needed low in a corner of the goal. Thought about how to do it and so I did, that was my greatest moment. Something we always need is some luck.
Clyde: How did you find playing in the British leagues compared to at home?
Erwin: It was great to play against teams I never saw. It was great to play with the people from St Albans. A whole new experience. Last weekend was the first weekend of the Dutch league, I play for Deventer since March, and we scored 81 goals in 7 games. Not much fun and hard to play at a consistence level the whole weekend. Thanks to the friends and team mates from St Albans.
Clyde: Last year at the European Club Championships, Deventer finished second to Possilipo Napoli, the local hosts. Do you think home territory has a significant impact on the locals desire to win - even against a much more experienced team?
Erwin: Playing at home means more pressure but it is easier to motivate yourself and show the crowd your best. Deventer only had 5 players and one was sick. They had no goalie in the team. Besides that I think that the Italian teams can be very motivated for a game or a tournament, playing at home helps a lot. We have seen Possilipo at some tournaments and they are a very good and fit team. About playing at home, I think it was very hard for the German ladies to defend their title at the worlds in Essen. They showed everybody how strong they are by winning the worlds at home.
Clyde: You and the Deventer guys seem to spend most of your time training of one sort or another. Tell us about the kind of things you do.
Erwin: I used to do about 32 hours a week (sometimes even more) of training sessions and that is may be the reason why I do not have to do that much anymore. I go to the gym in the winter (3 times a week) I do lactics in the boat, we got a hall to play our rules handball / rugby, I play a lot of training games and like to do my gym sessions outside at the beach or in the forest with sand, stones or wood. My work is very active and conditional very hard, that is why I only work 6 hours a day. Nobody can do more than that it is very heavy.
Clyde: And of course you still paddle in the winter. How cold does it get?
Erwin: If the water is frozen I go to the salty North sea. Years ago when I was younger it was very normal that the legs were so cold and a sleep, I had to crawl from the water to the clubhouse. Right now I got more money to pay the gym and do some more over there when it is very cold.
Clyde: There was a great era of Dutch Internationals. What's happened to them, and any chance of a return?
Erwin: The organisers from the tournaments we are missing stopped after many years of being successful. Then it was really hard to find other people to take over. There were also other problems with water-levels, licences and pressure on a club because of other events. There is an international tournament in April but only 30 teams can enter. We are looking for a place where we can place four pitches but that is not very easy. Hopefully there will be some good tournaments again in Holland.
Cylde: There has been much talk on the Forum about the greatest players. Do you think this kind of topic is good for team sports?
Erwin: I am not sure. There are some very wise things at the forum. At some big tournaments people said to me you are defiantly the best player in the world. At the same tournament I thought how can I learn to turn my boat like Alan or .... well name all the examples from the forum. Yes I throw the ball alright but that is not the whole game. I am always trying to analyse good things from other players and practise until I can do the same and then practise some more so I can do better. I am sure about one thing a very good player has got to be a sportsmen or sportswoman and not afraid to talk to people or learn people things they ask for. For me it is not the greatest player more a group of excellent players with excellent skills. I do agree with Alan “it all depends on the men at the big day” If there is nobody in a team that plays just a bit better than the rest the chance of winning will become smaller.
Clyde: The Dutch ladies are coming along very well. Is there much development in the sport for Ladies and Youth there?
Erwin: No, it is on its way but our ladies team is just a small group of very motivated girls who want to make it to a medal at a big tournament. That is their first goal, belong to the best few of the world. After that we can think about the next step.
Clyde: How do you find playing indoors compared to outdoors?
Erwin: I prefer playing indoors, love Sheffield. The only thing I don’t like is the temperature. Adelaide was very nice with the climate control.
Clyde: Do you or the Deventer team have sponsorship, or do you pay for all you club trips yourselves?
Erwin: All these years we paid for everything ourselves. I do get some equipment at the moment and get some discount at some company’s. Right now I need a new boat but can’t afford one. That is a shame if you do so many sessions a week in an old sinking boat and so many games at a very high level. Everyone watches the games my team plays but still I play in a cracked canoe. Because of that fact I don’t think the sport will grow fast, nobody wants to invest in players or teams. Nobody from outside the sport but also nobody from the inside.
Clyde: I know Mega want to do something about that for you.

Have you thought about running some Deventer Training Camps where outsiders pay for coaching either in teams of groups of individuals?
Erwin: No, maybe a good idea to finance my boat. Well everybody is welcome, the Danish have been in Deventer for a week and a tournament in Holland. Maybe if there are people interested we can organise something like that. 
Clyde: Have you had any injuries caused by Canoe Polo ? Is so, what was the problem and how did you over come this?
Erwin: Yes I have had a big injury on my wrist and my both elbows did have to deal with so many hits that they are cracked. I have also had a dislocated thumb. The wrist injury was really bad and the doctors said never play polo again, that was in 1995 but after a lot of training and exercises I recovered completely and the doctors were very surprised. Can't do anything anymore about my elbows, just have to live with that.
Thank you for this opportunity to tell people what I do and how I live with canoe polo. I want to explain people how I deal and think about canoe polo. It is a big part of my life, everything is organised to play polo. Thanks to everyone who is reading this and don’t be afraid to ask me any questions.

Erwin Roos
Interview originally published on Clyde's Polo Page

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