Van der Horst, Welten named 2015’s best hockey players

Lausanne, Jan 26 (IANS) The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Tuesday named the Netherlands pair of Robert Van der Horst and Lidewij Welten as the 2015 Players of the Year in the men’s and women’s categories respectively, while India’s Akashdeep Singh missed out on the junior player award.

The Netherlands made it a hat-trick of award wins as Joyce Sombroek picked up the women’s Goalkeeper of the Year for the second year in a row, while Ireland’s David Harte won the men’s Goalkeeper of the Year.

The Rising Star of the Year awards went to Germany’s Chrisopher Ruhr, who picked up this award for the second time in his career, and Great Britain’s Lily Owsley.

“The winners of this year’s FIH Hockey Stars were decided by the combined results of an online vote that was open to everyone and a peer vote from international athletes,” FIH said in a statement.

Netherlands captain Robert van der Horst, who picked up the FIH Rising Star of the Year award 10 years ago, has played exceptionally well throughout 2015.

While the 31 year-old defender provided consistently impressive performances at the Argentina Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final and Hero HWL Finals, one of the highlights of his year came in August when he led his team to the EuroHockey Championship title in London.

Van der Horst beat Belgum’s centre-half John-john Dohmen, German midfielder Tobias Hauke and the Australian duo of Mark Knowles and Christopher Ciriello for the award. Hauke and Knowles bagged the award for 2013 and 2014.

Also, it is notable that two defenders — Knowles and van der Horst — have been declared the best in the last two years.

Van der Horst’s compatriot, midfielder Welten, continued to impress for the women’s team, her attacking flair and skill wowing fans around the world.

Her ability to turn matches continues to contribute to the Netherlands dominance of women’s international hockey in a year in which they won the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final, finished runners up at the EuroHockey Championships and came fifth in the Argentina Hockey World League Final.

Another hugely influential player in the FIH world number one ranked team is goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek. With someone as reliable as Sombroek standing as the last line of the Netherlands defence, the remainder of the team plays with huge confidence.

Ireland men qualified for their first ever Olympic Games since 1908 and no-one will begrudge much of the credit going to David, the Green Machine’s goalkeeper and captain.

Harte’s performances in the FINTRO HWL Semi-Final ensured both a fighting chance for Ireland to get to Rio and his own position as Best Goalkeeper in that tournament. It was an accolade that he picked up again at the EuroHockey Championships 2015 when Ireland won a bronze medal, Ireland’s first medal at a major international event.

Women’s Rising Star of the Year — Great Britain and England’s Lily, emerged as a potent strike force for her teams in 2015. She played a hugely important role in England’s EuroHockey Champions victory by scoring the goal that took England to shoot-out in the final, which they went on to win.

Since he first wowed the fans with his speed and skill at the Junior Hockey World Cup in 2013, taking the FIH Rising Star of the Year award that same year, Germany’s Ruhr has not looked back. The attacking midfielder was an integral part of the German team that took silver in last year’s EuroHockey Championship, was named Man of the Match in the final of the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires, and was also joint top scorer at that event.

Ruhr beat Indian striker Akashdeep, Australian Blake Govers, and two others for the award. Akashdeep played kewy role in India winning the bronze medal in the HWL Finals in December.

Players will be presented with their awards in their respective home countries over the coming weeks.

Along with these awards, the FIH will also be awarding a Coach of the Year and an Umpire of the Year Award as part of Hockey Stars 2015 which will be announced on Thursday.

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