INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: THEO NDICKA
Theo Ndicka Matam is ready to go all out this season. After a difficult first season, the winger is ready to prove himself this year. The start of the season is promising. With a great assist against AA Gent, the young Frenchman has already earned the Coastal Boys three points. He'd rather not talk about his goals just yet, but one thing is for sure: all the factors are there to make this a top season.
Theo, it seems like you are always in a good mood because you always walk around with a big smile. Are you happy in Ostend?
I was really positively surprised when I arrived here because I didn't know Belgium at all. I feel very much at home here, Ostend is really a beautiful city. The supporters are great too, they really love us. So it's definitely true that my morale is really good. I love KV Ostend, the city, the surroundings and the Belgian league. I really like the league because you have some very strong players and teams here. It's also true that I am a very positive person who always tries to be cheerful. When I see that a teammate is not in a good mood, I always try to cheer him up, that's just how I am. Not everyone can always be in the best mood, but by always being cheerful and positive, it has a good impact.
Despite your good mood, your first season in Ostend must have been difficult. You often missed out on selection and only made rare minutes in the beginning, how did you experience that?
It is true that last season was very difficult for me. That was actually due to several factors. First of all, it was the first time I came to play football in another country. I was here all by myself and I didn't understand the language. It was a completely new environment and you should also not forget that I am still very young. All these factors made it difficult for me to adapt immediately. It's true that in the beginning of last season I didn't play much. Eventually I got my chance in the starting team, but then I lost that spot by making some mistakes. That's how it was, many people may see it as a missed season, but I rather see it as a year of adjustment. A year in which I could get used to the Belgian first division and in which I could work on my mentality, what the coach wanted from me and what the team needs from me. I'm convinced that all this will pay off this season.
Did playing at a relatively new position also have something to do with it?
The wingback position is not really new for me as my previous club also played with wingbacks. So it was already a position I knew before I came here, but what the coach here asks from me is something completely different. So I had to learn a lot and train hard. In the beginning, I didn't always understand what the coach wanted me to do. Some players get away with something immediately, for others it takes a bit longer. Nowadays I do have the feeling that I'm completely on my way. Of course, there's always room for improvement and I can still make steps, but at the moment I feel good in that position and I've mastered it.
This season you seem to get a more important role in the selection. How do you feel about that?
With the departure of Jelle (Bataille) and Ari (Skulason) earlier, there are fewer choices on the wing positions. At the moment you have Robbie (D'Haese), Brecht (Capon) and myself for two positions, and then you also have Alfons (Amade) who can depannulate when needed. So it gives me a lot of confidence that I am considered a basic player. I realise that comes with a lot of responsibility. I have to help the team as much as I can, and it's up to me to perform and show why they brought me here last year. All circumstances are there for me to play a great season. Of course I don't want to talk too fast, but in the first three games of the season I also played well in my opinion.
That you started well is a fact. Your great assist against Gent gave us three points already. Did you set yourself a goal in terms of statistics?
I do have a certain goal in mind in terms of goals and assists, but I prefer to keep that to myself. I mainly do that because I don't want to focus on those statistics. Because if I would focus on that, it would affect my game and I don't want that. It's indeed true that in my position, I can help a lot in attack, but I always have to defend as well. I cannot forget my defensive duties, so I have to pay attention to that. I want to give as many assists as possible this season because from my position you can have a lot of influence on the game. If I can score some goals, that's always a plus of course.
Last season was a top year for KV Oostende and this season we have started well too. Is this start the ideal basis for another smashing season?
Last season we didn't start the competition very well at all and only came back later to get our nice place in the standings. Of course you shouldn't forget that a season is very long. Three games is nothing really, we now have to try to continue like this and keep working hard. It's still early to estimate where we will end up in the standings, but I personally want to make at least Play Off 2. Last year we also made it to Play Off 2, so we should be able to do that this year as well. I think that with this core and the quality that we have now, we should be able to do so.