These days, almost every sport selects its player of the year. The awards in the team sports are more anticipated and talked about.
In football, since 2007, it has been practically a two-horse race between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, formerly the FIFA World Player of the Year. The whole world anxiously waits for its announcement.
In hockey, like most other things, it started late. FIH Player of the Year (Men and Women) awards, have been announced since 1998. More awards were added: FIH Rising Star of the Year, formerly Young Player of the Year, for players under 23, was added in 1999; FIH Coach of the Year in 2014 and FIH Umpire of the Year in 2015. All of these awards are for both the genders.
Hockey fans are invited to cast their vote in these categories: Player of the Year (men and women); Goalkeeper of the Year (men and women) and Rising Star of the Year (men and women).
Winners in these six categories will be decided by the combined results of an online vote that is open to the public and a peer vote from international athletes.
There is a truly magnificent prize for any hockey fan. Anyone who votes can enter into the competition, with the chance to win a fantastic trip to the wonderful German city of Berlin, which is the host city for the showcase Hockey Stars Awards.
Not only will the lucky person and guest be able to mix with the stars of the game at the awards ceremony but just two days later, they will be able to enjoy a day of action-packed indoor hockey at the Men’s and Women’s Indoor Hockey World Cup.
The winner, and his or her guest, will be flown from their home country to Berlin where they will first attend the fabulous Hockey Stars Awards evening on February 5, and they will be invited to attend the opening day of the Indoor Hockey World Cup two days later.
The fifth Indoor Hockey World Cup is taking place at the Max-Schmeling-Halle, which is a 7,500-seat indoor arena which provides the perfect venue for the fast-paced and exciting indoor hockey event. Both the men’s and women’s Hockey World Cups are taking place at the Max-Schmeling-Halle.
There is no public vote for the other two categories.
Coach of the Year is voted for by the international coaches and the coaches from the High Performance Panel, while Umpire of the Year Awards are decided by an international panel of umpires and technical officials, as well as athletes.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS
Women: Lidewij Welten (the Netherlands), Alex Danson (England & Great Britain), Melissa Gonzalez (USA), Stacey Michelsen (New Zealand), Delfina Merino (Argentina).
Men: Arthur Van Doren (Belgium), Billy Bakker (the Netherlands), Mats Grambusch (Germany), Gonzalo Peillat (Argentina), Mirco Pruyser (the Netherlands).
GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS
Women: Maddie Hinch (England & Great Britain), Jackie Briggs (USA), Aisling D’Hooghe (Belgium), Li Dongxaio (China), Anne Veenendaal (the Netherlands).
Men: David Harte (Ireland), Quico Cortes (Spain), George Pinner (England & Great Britain), Vincent Vanasch (Belgium), Juan Vivaldi (Argentina).
RISING STAR OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS (Players aged 23 and under)
Women: Maria Granatto (Argentina), Nike Lorenz (Germany), Frederique Matla (the Netherlands), Laura Nunnink (the Netherlands), Xan de Waard (the Netherlands).
Men: Thierry Brinkman (the Netherlands), Arthur Van Doren (Belgium), Jorrit Croon (the Netherlands), Tim Herzbruch (Germany), Victor Wegnez (Belgium).
Five of this year’s nominees have been past winners. In the Women Player category, Lidewij Welten won this category in 2015. Stacy Michelsen, another nominee in the same category, was the Rising Star of the year in 2011.
Maddie Hinch (Women Goalkeeper) was the winner last year. In the Men Goalkeeper’s category, David Harte is on a hat-trick, having won the award in 2015 and 2016.
Belgium’s Arthur Van Doren has already achieved a unique distinction, nominated for two awards: Men Player and Rising Star. He had won the latter last year.
It is nice to see the name of the Netherland’s Thierry Brinkman in the Rising Star Men category. He is the son of legendary Jacques Brinkman, winner of two Olympic golds and two World Cup golds.
During the period taken into consideration, the Netherlands were easily the most successful nation, men and women (seniors as well as juniors).
The Dutch made a complete sweep: Hockey World League Final for Women, Hockey World League Semi-final for Men, European Nations Championships (men & women), European Junior Championships (men & women).
Hence, it was no surprise to see as many as nine out of the total 30 nominations from the Netherlands. Belgium has five players in the draw. Europe easily dominates with 22. Among non-European countries, Argentina leads with four contenders. Asia has just one nomination in China’s Li Dongxaio (Women Goalkeeper).
Though, the FIH Awards were instituted in 1998, the presentation ceremony used to be a little formality — lasting around five minutes on most of the occasions: During the half time of the final or semi-finals of the World Cup, Champions Trophy or European Championships.
But in February 2017, it was a glitzy ceremony at the packed crystal ballroom of Lalit Hotel in Chandigarh, the capital of Indian Punjab.
The ceremony mixed with Bollywood glamour was televised live by India’s Doordarshan channel and also live streamed through the YouTube channel.