"Suddenly everyone has their opinion about you."
At Osaka, she is one of the newest kids on the block. In hockey, her magic is very well known. She floats over the fields of hockey like a graceful fairy. But make no mistake. This lady is a tough nut to crack. Meet Valerie Magis.
Magis: ‘My unconventional last name is a legacy of my Belgian French-speaking grandfather. I am the daughter of a tennis- and a golf-teacher. Besides golf, my mum is also a gifted amazon. The sports genes run through my family. Field Hockey player Mink van der Weerde is my grandnephew and football player Anton Scheutjens is my uncle. Both my nieces Charlotte and Frederique Derkx were my teammates at some stage.
I started to play Field hockey when I was eight years old. My first club was HC Heeze. I played there for five years. When I was in U14, HC Oranje+Rood, previously known as Oranje-Zwart, scouted me. The start of a long indoor hockey and outdoor hockey career. I debuted in the first ladies team when I was fifteen.’
‘I am pretty sure, my winners' mentality was created at OZ. I was very impressed by my teammates and also one of the youngest of the group. Those girls really raised me in a way. I literally grew up between them. As a teenager, you spend most of your time with the team. That also means that the pressure is always on. I looked up to a lot of them, and I learned at a very young age that it’s all about winning and losing in sports.
I am a bad loser myself. Even when I play a stupid board game, I still want to win. It is a true understanding that top sport to me is not achievable if you don’t have a winners mentality, always. I’m really fed up if I don’t win. But, besides this strong winners mentality, I also learned to always look at the circumstances. Losing is of course part of the game. Most important is: How did you lose? There are some questions I always ask myself: Did I get everything out of the game, did my team as well? How was the overall performance? Did we do everything we could? And a very important one: What went really well? If you can honestly ask yourself these questions, you can charge better and faster for the next game.’
"To perform under great pressure is something you learn along the way."
‘After a year in A1, I got selected for Jong Oranje, the National youth team for The Netherlands. It came fast and it was something I always dreamed of and worked for. All of a sudden, it’s there. After four years of hard work, I could finally play with the Dutch team. The girls you look up to, your idols, are now your teammates. It was surreal and incredible at the same time. Very soon you realize that nothing is sure. You have to fight every day for your spot in the team, and the pressure is on twenty-four-seven.
To perform under great pressure is something you learn along the way. What I can assure you, the stress is, and always will be, there. The audience is watching and they are watching at you with a magnifying glass. Suddenly everyone has their opinion about you. Sports should be fun, and to me, there is a difference between criticism and feedback. From feedback you grow, but from criticism you may get insecure and lose your love for the game. The only way to deal with this is to stop reading the articles and to stay close to yourself. At some stage, the personal comments don’t bring you anything and when you stop getting something out of it, you might as well stop reading them. That was always my mantra.’
‘One of the best hockey memories I have was playing against Argentina. My biggest idol Luciana Aymar was in the team and I could finally play that icon. Unforgettable! Today I combine my work as a stylist with club hockey in Belgium at KHC Dragons. I am very pleasantly surprised by the growing professionalism in the Belgian league. There are for sure some differences with the Dutch competition. The game here is played more physical. I am super happy with the competition so far. We really fight for each point and that mentality is exactly what I like. I am a fighter myself. When I bit myself into something, I don’t let go quickly.’
‘The biggest battle I had to fight in my life is my Diabetes 1. I always call it my top sport beside my top sport. (smiles). When we first discovered that my pancreas is not working as it should, I couldn’t accept myself being ill. For more than a year, I really struggled with this. Yes, it took me some time to fully accept that my body needs some help and that it’s not working fully automatically. You just want your body to function. That was really the hardest part.
When I first discovered it, it was a curse, really. Only over time, I realized, that I would never know my body and myself so well without Diabetes. So now I see it more as a gift, and I can be thankful again. Today I am the face of several Diabetes Foundations and there I can inspire others with my story. For me, it is very important to help others with their fear of this disease.’
Magis: ‘Today, I am the face of several Diabetes Foundations and there I can inspire others with my story.’
‘For the future, I would love to continue to let my Hockey stick speak for me. It is the Osaka Hockey stick that does the job, and that requires focus and dedication. As long as I am fit and as long as I enjoy it, I will go on.
It is very funny that you mention my nice way of running. I am tall and as a teenager, I missed a lot of ‘souplesse’. I simply couldn’t run. So I decided to join an Athletics Club and it’s there that I really learned the skill of running. For everyone who’s interested. What you need is a pair of the right shoes and a nice running app. Always remember that you have to run straight up and make sure you roll the feet well, even when you go fast. Last but not least, use your arms in the right way and soon you will become the fastest on the field. ‘(MK)
This shoot took place right before the outbreak of COVID-19. Therefore we thought it would be nice to publish a short message from Magis.
Last-minute message from Valerie
‘Strange times we’re living in now. But let’s not give up hope. Yesterday, we heard that the competition for this season will definitely not continue. Of course, that is the saddest news. It is what it is, and everyone will have to deal with this. Health above everything. Hope everyone is fine. Stay safe!’