Brussels’ Grand-Place was practically filled to capacity as thousands of supporters gave a hero’s welcome to their champions, cheering loudly as the national hockey team brandished Belgium’s first world title in a collective sport. The Red Lions’ coach, New Zealander Shane McLeod, and his staff were given a resounding ovation by fans massed around the Christmas tree. After that, each player was acclaimed by the crowd. Captain Thomas Briels, who arrived last on the Brussels City Hall balcony, presented the trophy to the fans massed below in the square, raising it aloft to thunderous applause.
The Belgian team then sang the national anthem a capella, in French and Dutch, stirring the hearts of the public.
The Red Lions entered history in Bhubaneshwar, India, on Sunday, as the first Belgian team to win a world title in a collective sport when they beat the Netherlands 3-2 in a shootout that capped an exciting final.