Daniel Verhoeven is new ESF Vice-President

Daniel Verhoeven

Former Luxembourg Squash Federation President Daniel Verhoeven has been elected to the board of the European Squash Federation.

After winning the vote at the recent ESF AGM in Uster, Switzerland, the 47-year-old joins fellow Vice-Presidents Luis Ferreira, Catherine Ezvan and Otto Kalvo serving under President Thomas Troedsson.

Daniel fills the vacancy left by Ireland’s Rosie Barrie, who served with distinction on the ESF Board for five years and departed last year. Daniel will attend his first Board meeting in Amsterdam later this month.

The Belgian leads the finance R&D department at Goodyear, where he has worked in various senior positions for the last 20 years. He has a degree in Business Management and speaks fluent French, English and Dutch.

He started playing squash after sustaining a shoulder injury which ended his days as a “decent serve-volleyer” on the tennis court. He was inspired to switch sports by his father, who played squash during Daniel’s childhood in his birthplace of Zaire.

Daniel (third from left) with colleagues from Luxembourg Squash

Daniel taught himself to play by undertaking the Level 1 coaching certificate, where he learned the basic technique and tactics. Thereafter, he did his Level 2 qualification and is currently midway through his Level 3.

Several years ago, he started coaching 10 hours a week in the evenings and later became national team coach, technical director, treasurer, secretary and president of the Luxembourg Squash Federation.

Among his achievements while in these various roles at the federation were:

– Improved relationships with governmental bodies (Sports Ministry, Olympic Committee, Sport School)
– Organising international tournaments inc Luxembourg Junior Open, Luxembourg Masters
– Initiating a dual career programme with the Sport Lycée
– Professionalising the coaching programme and pathway
– Increasing subsidies for coaching and court hours
– Setting up the National Squash Centre with four additional courts
– Expanding the Board and developing new members
– Implementing Squash Levels to replaced an outdated local tool

Along with Barcelona-based Kiwi Tony Griffin, Daniel also implemented a new learning process based on a sports science concept of differential learning into his subsidised coaching programmes in Luxembourg. This is based on a new understanding of how eyes plus insecurities and doubts condition our movements, our learning and our retention of skills, keeping the athlete as alert and stimulated as possible by varying drills to simulate match play.

“Constantly changing the drills means your player has to stay ‘in the present’ and think about what he or she is doing,” explains Daniel. “In a repetitive drill, after more than 10 or 15 shots, the brain focus diminishes, so the retention of information and skills also diminishes.

“The idea is to change and see if the player can adapt immediately – because that recreates match conditions. What I like most in that method is it brings me as a coach in the present as well, because I am constantly connected to the player in evaluating their shot and thinking about the next exercise. Time flies incredibly fast. When you do boast and drive for too long, you fall asleep!”

One of his ambitions is to be part of a Luxembourg bid to host the Games of the Small States of Europe in 2029 and return squash to its sports programme, as it won’t be on it in 2025 or 2027. In order to achieve that, Luxembourg would need to prove its credentials by successfully hosting the ESF European Team Division3 Championships in one of the prior years.

“I am looking forward to bringing my finance and management skills to the ESF Board,” said Daniel. “I’m father of three children. I’m a quick learner and experienced coach. I love helping people out and moving institutions and individuals forward.”