Sheldon Bateau (32) is the new captain of SK Beveren. The brand new captain must guide the yellow-blue ship towards promotion this year. The 32-year-old defender talks about his return to the Freethiel, his new role within the team, the slow start to the season and the ambitions of the team. “Everyone expects a lot from us”, Bateau says.
Well begun is half done goes the saying. But just like last season, Beveren has start off slowly. Last year, yellow-blue recovered after a lesser start to eventually remain in the title race for a long time. Nothing is yet decided, although it has to be much better if the club wants to take another shot at promotion this year. “It was not the start we expected”, says Sheldon Bateau, the new captain this season. “The balance in the team is not quite right yet. It is now up to us to show a positive response, especially for our own fans. Last year we only lost once in the league at home. We want to continue being strong at home this season.”
Ambitions and expectations are again high in the Waasland, even though many players left in the summer. “Expectations are indeed very high”, says Bateau, who predicts a difficult season due to last season's good performances. “Everyone expects us to be at the top of the standings and the pressure from the supporters has increased. It is very understandable after last season. But this is a new season with new players. We'll need some time to get to grips with each other. Hopefully we will pick up enough points in that period. Is there sufficient quality? You can never have enough quality in the quest to be champion. So extra quality is always welcome.”
The disappointment on missing out on the title last season has now made way for fresh courage. “It still hurts. It was one of the most difficult moments of my playing career,” he recalls. “But we shouldn't hold on to past setbacks. That won't help us this season. The goal is to finish in the top three. And hopefully we can uncork the champagne at the end of the season.”
Bateau was installed as the new captain at the beginning of this season, a role that is made for him. “It is a responsibility that I gladly accept,” says Bateau. “I am used to motivating a group. That's something very natural to me, it's not forced. In this group I also get a lot of respect from everyone and I have a good relationship with all the players.”
After a successful loan period, Bateau signed permanently in the Waasland this summer, although his arrival was delayed. “I had an agreement with Beveren very quickly, but I still had to make a deal with Samsunspor”, Bateau clarifies his transfer from the Turkish team. “We had to find an agreement financially. I am very happy to be back in Beveren. Physically it is getting better and better every day. I am very happy here both on and off the field.”
Bateau feels like a fish in water in Belgium, even though his family resides in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago. “Stability is very important to me and my family,” he explains why he chose Beveren again. “My son goes to school in Trinidad and Tobago. Because I moved around a lot, they never came over. We have been doing this for several years now and are gradually getting used to it. Although it's not always easy for my girlfriend and me. We are looking for a good solution and who knows, maybe they will come to Belgium. We have yet to look at that option.”
SOURCE: Gazet van Antwerpen