Van Ass family and their India connect
Son of former India chief coach Paul van Ass, Seve has been a regular visitor to India ever since he joined the Netherlands team in 2011.Updated: Jan 18, 2020 20:44 IST
Settling into his seat at a restaurant here, Seve van Ass, when asked about the number of times he had visited India, started counting on his fingertips. “Probably five times with the national team and more on my own,” he said. Soon, realising the futility of the exercise, the Netherlands midfielder gave up the count and said with a smile, “I just love coming back here.”
Son of former India chief coach Paul van Ass, Seve has been a regular visitor to India ever since he joined the Netherlands team in 2011. Being part of the Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the now defunct Hockey India League (HIL) gave Seve plenty of time to experience Indian culture. While he toured different cities in India with his team, the 27-year-old also explored several parts of the country on his own and with his family.
“I have travelled to a lot of places and experienced India. I have been to Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Goa and some other places. And I liked them. For a guy from Holland, this is a new world full of experience,” said the former Dutch captain, who likes reading behavioural books and play golf in his spare time. “It’s not something you see too often (back home) and I like experiencing new cultures.”
The chaotic streets and the cultural change can leave many visitors to India shocked but Seve is overwhelmed by the kindness of the people here. “In Holland, people are generally doing their own thing but here people are kind. From the smell to what goes on in the streets, there’s so much that’s going around that’s interesting to observe,” said Seve, who apart from having his own retail business of electric mopeds also has a Masters degree in finance.
But it was in Varanasi that Seve learnt about his “spiritual avatar”. The holy city and its ghats left a lasting impression on his persona following which he started seeing things from a different perspective.
“Varanasi, the Ganges made a huge impression. Also, the whole reincarnation philosophy... it is very different to what we see and experience in Holland. I experienced my spiritual side in Varanasi,” said the Rotterdam-born Seve. “Funerals are so grim, black and cold back home. But in Varanasi, I understood that death can also have a different, a beautiful side...a sort of celebration that a life ended but it’s not grim as it moves to another. I see the beauty in it. The whole experience of people dying was a bit more lifelike.”
The Dutchman added that he’ll keep coming back to India, the next time with his girlfriend so that she too can experience the country. “I think the two of us will definitely visit India and travel in the coming future,” he said.
Besides his adoration for India, Seve also gets his love for hockey from his father. Paul was India chief coach for six months in 2015 before falling out of favour with Hockey India. Later, Paul took up an assignment in Turkey for two years before taking a break. He has returned to coaching and now trains HGC in The Hague, a club where his son also plays.
“Apart from an episode of food poisoning, my father has really enjoyed himself in India,” said Seve. “He really liked the team, the culture of this huge hockey nation and is proud to have coached India. It is a dream for most to coach a team with such history in hockey. He has happy memories. But, of course, he wanted to participate in the 2016 Olympics with the team. He really felt he could have pushed the team to greater heights, which was his mission. He says, ‘I wanted to have my chance at the Olympics to show what Indian hockey can be about.’”