The Netherland's trademark orange was draped over the WorldHockey Player of the Year awards with three Dutch players dominating the honours at today’s presentations in Sydney.
Dutch forward Teun de Nooijer today returned to Sydney – scene of his epic performances in The Netherlands’ march to Olympic gold in 2000 – to claim the WorldHockey senior men’s Player of the Year award for the first time and stand alongside compatriots Mijntje Donners and Maartje Scheepstra who gave the Dutch a clean sweep of the women’s awards.
A sprig of local wattle was mixed in today’s presentations with Australian forward Grant Schubert breaking up the Dutch domination by claiming the young men’s Player of the Year title.
Netherlands captain Donners, one of the most passionate and effective players in women’s hockey, is the first Dutch player to win the senior women’ award which dates back to 1998.
De Nooijer joins former Dutch captain Stephan Veen, the inaugural winner in 1998 and 2000, as the second Netherlands player to win the coveted men’s award.
Scheepstra, a cool-headed defender, and Schubert, a prolific goalscorer who has added new bite to the Australian attack, emphasise the exciting new talent emerging on the international hockey circuit.
International Hockey Federation secretary-general Peter Cohen today hailed the four winners as magnificent role models in world hockey.
“Our game is blessed with outstanding players who represent themselves, their countries and their sport with distinction and we are proud to acknowledge these four champions of the year and thank them for their part in making world hockey a better game for their presence and skills,” Mr Cohen said.
“All four winners came from impressive fields of nominations and we congratulate not only the four Players of the Year but all those who were considered for the awards. They have all made for a wonderful year of world hockey.”
The winners were chosen by two panels – one for the men’s game and the other for the women’s – made up of accomplished coaches and esteemed media representatives.
De Nooijer was chosen from a field of 10 nominations including Sohail Abbas, Wasseem Ahmed (Pakistan), Pablo Amat, Xavier Ribas (Spain), Chauhan Devesh, Dilip Tirkey (India), Jorge Lombi (Argentina) and Australian pair Troy Elder and Brent Livermore.
Donners’ success comes amid the BDO Champions Trophy for women’s hockey in Sydney where she has reinforced her value to the Dutch team as a strong-willed leader. She won the senior women’s award from a field comprising team-mate Minke Booij, Australian duo Katie Allen and Julie Towers, Argentine midfielder Luciana Aymar, China goalkeeper Nie Yali and team-mate Fu Baorong, Spain’s striker Nuria Camon and Japan’s midfielder Sachimi Iwao.
DeNooijer and Donners have continued the Dutch reputation of cleaning up in Sydney where The Netherlands women’s team won the World Cup in 1990 and the men’s team won Olympic gold in 2000.
The judges’ decisions in the men’s section can be compared with the fans’ voting in the polls of the FIH website at www.WorldHockey.org.
Previous winners of the awards in the senior sections are –
Men’s Player of the Year
1998 S. Veen (The Netherlands)
1999 J. Stacy (Australia)
2000 S. Veen (The Netherlands)
2001 F. Kunz (Germany)
2002 M. Green (Germany)
Women’s Player of the Year
1998 A. Annan (Australia)
1999 N. Keller (Germany)
2000 A. Annan (Australia)
2001 L. Aymar (Argentina)
2002 C. Rognoni (Argentina)