There is a new face on the pitch alongside Australia’s old hands such as Eddie Ockenden, Matthew Swann and Aran Zalewski – the unknown 19-year-old Tim Brand. The name could easily be Dutch, and indeed, Brand was born in Gouda.
‘You can ask me in Dutch,’ says Brand, after being approached by a reporter from Dutch website Hockey.nl after the Australians’ 2-1 win over Pakistan. Brand is not a fluent Dutch speaker, although he understands it well enough. His parents moved to Sydney when he was three years old after his Australian mother decided she wanted to return to her home country.
‘I can still remember bits about my time in the Netherlands, particularly skating on frozen ditches,’ says Brand, when he thinks back to the first three years of his life. It’s a memory he cherishes now he lives in the much warmer Australia.
‘I’ve been back to the Netherlands a couple of times since we emigrated. My aunt and uncle live in Gorinchem [a town in Zuid-Holland] and I’ve been there quite often. It’s a nice place. But this is the first time I have been with the Australian team. It’s great. The Champions Trophy is a fantastic tournament and everyone dreams about playing in the Netherlands, in front of a Dutch crowd. And I can do this in my first tournament, it’s unreal.’
Brand made his debut for the Kookaburras over a week ago in a friendly against Germany ahead of the Champions Trophy. That was reason enough for his Dutch family to jump into the car and cross the border to support their long-lost nephew.
His uncle, aunt, grandmother and grandfather are following the Champions Trophy in Breda as well. And sometimes, he says, when he’s got the ball, he can hear his uncle chanting his name above the rest of the supporters.
‘My uncle has a loud voice,’ he laughs. ‘He shouts my name a lot, before the match as well. It’s brilliant having my Dutch family here and that they are cheering on the whole team, not just me. I wonder what they will do when we play the Netherlands. I’m really looking forward to that game.’
And with a little speculation about a possible final, he says: ‘I think we’re going to come up against the Netherlands twice this tournament.’