Gold for Eefjan Breukink at Hockey Masters World Cup

Several of our faculty colleagues are also fanatical athletes in their free time. They not only have a fun hobby; they’re also working on improving their vitality.

Eefjan speelt hockey

‘Vital’ is definitely one word to describe Eefjan Breukink (57). By day, he is an Associate Professor and head of the Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics group at the Department of Chemistry. There, he studies new antibiotics to contribute to the fight against bacterial resistance. But he also keeps busy after work as well. In October, for example, he won a gold medal at the Hockey Masters World Cup in Cape Town.

Long career rewarded

“I’ve been playing hockey for 47 years, and in my youth I played in the league just below the pro’s”, Eefjan explains. “The Netherlands Hockey Masters (now affiliated with the KNHB) have been active since 2014, organising European Cup and World Cup competitions for various age categories. This year, the World Cup was held in Cape Town. It was my 4th tournament, and we went on to win gold!” he recalls with pride. He had already won the silver medal (Terassa, 2018) and bronze (Rotterdam, 2014). The team trained for two years in preparation for the World Cup in Cape Town, which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Winning the gold at a World Cup is of course a unique achievement. Was it hard work? Eefjan: “The final was a nerve-wracking match. We gained an early lead, and then finished ‘the Italian way’. Even though a few of our players were sick, including myself. I was playing with 1 gram of Paracetamol, so I had less power and wasn’t as sharp as I was in the previous matches.” But that didn’t keep the team from victory, thanks in part to their strenuous training.

Training and more training

“I train three times per week, and play a match at the weekend. When we don’t have a match on Sunday, I always go running instead. In the lead up to the World Cup, we trained with the cup team on Tuesday evening, and I trained with my own club team on Thursday evening (Doorn veterans A, or H30-1). On Mondays, I almost always train my core stability at Hellas athletic club, and I play some basketball. I also keep fit with strength training, to avoid any problems withmy  back or neck. And I always cycle to work from my home in Odijk. With a normal bike, not an electric one”, Eefjan emphasises.

Parallels between work and sports

Has Eefjan noticed that his good condition helps him in his work at Utrecht University as well? Eefjan: “I mainly use sports as a relief valve to help reset myself mentally. If you ask me, everyone could use that.  It helps me get through stressful periods. I’ve also noticed that you can concentrate for longer if you’re really fit, which also helps in your work. A healthy mind needs a healthy body. Another aspect is the positive social effect in both environments. Sports brings together people from different backgrounds and fields of expertise, which can teach you things for your own work environment. You could say the same about team sports and working in a team at your work; they both have a lot of parallels.”