Tetyana Kobzenko will display her dazzling skills for Dutch club Amsterdam
Kobzenko to go Dutch
After years of clubs in the Netherlands and Germany trying to secure her services, Ukraine captain Tetyana Kobzenko has finally agreed to play for Amsterdam next season. Cathy Harris explores just what the outstanding player might achieve with one of Europe’s most famous clubs.
It has taken some time, but one of the best players in Europe will finally be able to test herself against the best.
Few would argue that Ukraine’s Tetyana Kobzenko has consistently been among an elite group of players to have turned in a succession of outstanding performances over the past five years.
At club and international level, her skills, tactical acumen and goal scoring ability have been the envy of many and she has earned world wide respect.
Giles Bonnet, the Belgium men’s national team coach and Amsterdam’s coach, says he had been a big fan for many years.
“I find her one of the unique hockey players in the world today. She is extremely gifted technically and has a highly developed game sense, namely the ability to see the game in more than one dimension and also to play in this space,” he says.
“She has the ability to be a game breaker due to her highly developed elimination skills. This attribute is also supported by skills and a game which is able to adjust and also be distributive and defensive, most probably developed due to the environment of being the underdog at tournaments.”
Luring her to the club has been a long process and Bonnet admitted the club had been trying for three years.
”The difference this year has been the involvement of Jons Hensel, the visionary president of Amsterdam who through his innovative approach has been able to take Amsterdam hockey club into a new realm of professionalism in every aspect of club management.
“The support of her club has also assisted this process, whereas in the past they were not supportive of her involvement.”
Of course it is no secret that hockey players are able to make considerable sums of money nowadays and for Kobzenko this must have added to the attraction.
Bonnet is understandably reluctant to go in to detail but he says that through it’s impressive network of sponsors, the club can provide unique work opportunities for players.
“This enables them as a club to attract hockey players not for the short-term elusive payments, but because they provide employment during and after their hockey careers.
“This is one of the opportunities able to be offered for Tetyana. In addition to this she will benefit equally as do the other international players at Amsterdam.”
One Dutch international at the club who says she is really excited at the prospect of playing alongside Kobzenko is Maartje Scheepstra.
“She is really good, an outstanding talent” enthused Scheepstra. “She is also incredibly versatile. I hope she has a good time and we will do everything possible to make her feel welcome. She’ll have to learn to play in a team and adapt to team tactics but I think she’ll enjoy it and I personally am delighted that we have the opportunity to entertain a foreign player. It’s up to us to make sure she has fun.”
While Scheepstra says she’s not sure what role Kobzenko will play, Bonnet has no doubts.
”I am expecting that she will bring her fighting spirit, always having been the underdog at European and other tournaments.
“She will also bring a level of technical expertise which will challenge our other top players and act as a role model for our youth. We have been plagued by injuries over the past two seasons in the final stages of the championship and her presence will assist in reducing this risk in this area.
“Her involvement will also enable us to improve on our style of play and allows us to strengthen our lines.”
Kobzenko, 29, has certainly come through some hard times. Brought up in an orphanage in Nikolayev near the Black Sea, she has no idea who her parents are or whether she has any brothers or sisters.
She began playing hockey at the age of nine for Sumy and after being spotted by the Ukraine junior coach, Svetlana Makayaeva, moved to Kiev where she has since progressed to play an influential role for Kolos Borispol, helping them to a sequence of national titles and European medals.
What she will definitely need to brush up on is her English which has probably hampered her on several occasions over the years.
One of her first projects in Amsterdam will be to take a course in English and then it will be over to Bonnet and her new team mates to guide her through her initial period of settling in.
Bonnet doesn’t believe it will be too difficult.
“As Jim Irvine often stated during his successful stay at Amsterdam, ‘Hockey is a universal language’.“
“We will assist Tetyana in either English or Dutch courses and bank on the successful Jim Irvine doctrine of coaching.”
Kobzenko is young enough to make a success of this brave foray in to unchartered waters. And if the experience proves to be a big success, it’s possible others may follow.
There is, after all, a huge untapped pool of talent in eastern Europe eager to improve and make the most of any opportunities they are given.
Bonnet agrees: “I noticed a few exciting players in the final of the Europa Cup last year and am sure that eastern European players will be attracted to play in western Europe, either through their own initiative or through the scouting of teams in this emerging hockey market place.”