Last updated 2 years ago by Jon Wilkins
I was really honoured to have a conversation by email with Sport Utrecht nominee for Sportsman of the Year, SV Kampong and Ireland goalkeeper David Harte.
David is from Kinsale, Cork in Ireland. He is an Olympian from the Rio 2016 Games and also captain of the Irish Men’s team.
David is a European Bronze medallist and has twice been selected as the World’s Best Keeper.
He has played professional club hockey for nine years, seven of those with our very own SV Kampong.
David is a qualified P.E and Biology teacher and is currently studying for an MA in Sports Business.
He is a member of the Olympic Federation of Ireland and European Olympic Council Athletes’ Commission.
As a professional was it necessary to leave Ireland to play full time?
Yes, due to hockey in Ireland being considered a minority sport. There are a number of countries in Europe and further abroad where you can earn a living from playing the sport I love!
I see that you have played for clubs in Ireland and India. How different is each clubs culture compared to Kampong?
There are many similarities between the clubs I have played for around the world. The main one being the identity behind competing for those clubs. The culture is one with a very family orientated nature with a proud history. A special feeling to have been a part of those clubs in Ireland, India and Malaysia and I am continuing to enjoy my time at SV Kampong. The main difference would be perhaps club loyalty. In Ireland you remained with clubs your whole life, while some have done so at Kampong a lot have also come and gone.
Which country did you prefer?
I see Ireland still as number one but the Netherlands as my home away from home. Saying that, in total I have spent over a year of my life in India through all the different tournaments and adventures thus far.
Where is your favourite place in Utrecht?
I would have to say the Wilhelminapark – especially on a scorching summer’s day. The atmosphere and diverse range of activities that go on in the park is fascinating.
Does Utrecht inspire you?
It sure does. Utrecht reminds me daily of the 22-year-old man who left home to pursue and unknown adventure in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. Leaving family and friends behind I am proud to see Utrecht as my home and so much that I am now living with my fiancé, Lyn, from Belfast in Utrecht for over 2 years. Utrecht has provided me with a new life full of possibilities and friendships that will remain eternal. It continually inspires me to be the best David Harte than I can be.
What would be a perfect day in Utrecht for you?
A bike ride through the Wilhelminapark then into the city. Lunch and a drink on a sunny terrace at one of the hustling and bustling city cafes with views of the Dom. Finished off by an evening boat journey with friends through the calming, picturesque canals.
What is the main difference between the Irish and the Dutch?
The directness of the Dutch! The Irish are a lot more considerate of others feelings – it is just in our nature.
Do you miss anything about Ireland?
The obvious things like family and friends but also the Irish sarcasm and humour, like no other in the world.
Do you think there is a Dutch way of life?
Absolutely! The Dutch way of life is very relaxed. An amazing work-life balance with children being an integral part of that. The Dutch love to explore and adventure and that is definitely evident from history.
Do you think you fit in to the Dutch way of life?
I struggled for the first few years until I understood how the country functions and of course how to speak and understand Dutch. I now find myself as an official resident of Utrecht even with a Dutch driving-license.
Do you know many Irish expats in Utrecht or do you make friends with the Hockey community or the Dutch?
I have met a lot of my friends through the hockey community which is quite big but have also made some through my time as a teacher in the International School of Utrecht.
Do you think the Dutch could learn anything from the Irish?
How to cook a good stew!
Will you be staying in the Netherlands?
That remains the big question. I am to get married in Utrecht in July of this year and will continue playing hockey for a number of more years, so we will take each year as it comes. There may be a decision to relocate once my hockey career has come to an end, but I am very open to remaining in the Netherlands too.
Do you still want to teach?
I have found myself veering away from the teaching side of my professional development. It is an amazing qualification to have and one you can carry with you anywhere in the world, so it is still something I am very fortunate to have completed. I chose a Masters in Sport Business, mainly due to my experiences of playing elite and professional sport for the last 10 years, to see after my playing career if I can remain involved in some official capacity.
What would winning the award mean to you?
To win the award would mean a great deal on many different levels. I would be very proud as a foreigner to win such a prestigious award and it would further reinforce my feeling of being at home in Utrecht. Secondly and more importantly it would be amazing to win the award to celebrate the incredible year our team, Kampong Heren 1, had in the 2017/2018 hockey season.
If you would like to vote for David, check out the SportUtrecht page here.