England’s Barry Middleton (pictured right in action for GB) and Ashley Jackson are among the nominees for awards from the International Hockey Federation (FIH). GB and England skipper Middleton is nominated for men’s player of the year, Jackson for the men’s young player of the year award which he also pocketed last year.
The annual prizes recognise the finest hockey players in the game as voted for by athletes representing the world’s best international teams.
The shortlist for the men’s player contains two of the greatest hockey players of their generation. Brilliant Dutch attacker Teun de Nooijer is joined by HC Bloemendaal team-mate and World Cup-winning Australian Jamie Dwyer, with both men aiming to win the coveted award for a what would be a record fourth time.
However, these two hockey icons face stiff competition from three other superstars of the world game. Germany midfielder Moritz Fürste is a strong candidate following outstanding performances for both club and country, helping a youthful Germany team to reach the final of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup whilst also guiding his club side UHC Hamburg to Euro Hockey League glory.
Middleton is another player who has greatly impressed his fellow internationals, with his skill and creativity helping to re-establish England as a genuine title contender at the highest level, while Korea’s Jong Ho Seo‘s stunning goal-scoring ability ensured that he also gained many votes from his peers.
Following Argentinean triumphs at the Samsung FIH Champions Trophy (Nottingham, ENG) and BDO FIH World Cup (Rosario, ARG), it is hardly surprising that two las Leonas stars have made it onto the shortlist for the women’s player of the year. 33-year-old Luciana Aymar was an inspirational force for her team as they claimed the World Cup on home soil, and her subsequent nomination creates the possibility of an incredible seventh crown for the midfield maestro. She is joined on the list by team-mate Soledad Garcia, who like Aymar is also familiar with the FIH Player Awards having been named Young Player of the Year in 2002 and 2004.
China’s Fu Baorong will be hoping to win her first FIH player of the year award thanks to consistently excellent performances for the Olympic Silver medallists. In what was very much a transitional year for the China team, the 32-year-old striker has been a constant goal threat against the world’s best teams throughout 2010.
Two names from Europe complete the women’s line-up, with Germany’s Natascha Keller and Maartje Paumen of The Netherlands both drawing votes in big numbers. Keller – famously an Olympic Hockey Gold Medal winner alongside father Carsten (Munich 1972), and brothers Andreas (Barcelona 1992) and Florian (Beijing 2008) – continues to be a magnificent scorer and creator of goals for Germany. Could she reclaim the player of the year title 11 years after her first win in 1999? Although known for her ferocious flicking ability from penalty corners, Maartje Paumen is also a confident and accomplished defender who played a central role in guiding The Netherlands to Silver medals at this year’s Champions Trophy and World Cup tournaments.
Following his victory in the 2009 edition, Ashley Jackson leads the candidates for the men’s young player gong, which is open to athletes born in 1987 or later. However, the gifted attacker and penalty corner expert will be challenged for the prize by four other rising stars of the world game. Two of Germany’s most promising players have been named in the shortlist, with battling midfielder Tobias Hauke and teenage striker Florian Fuchs both achieving nominations. Dutch midfielder Robert Kemperman continues his rapid rise to stardom by making the shortlist after a year which saw him win Bronze at the Hero Honda FIH World Cup, while New Zealand striker Nick Wilson has been a key player in a resurgent Black Sticks team.
Like Jackson in the young men’s award, Australia’s Casey Eastham has been re-nominated for the young women’s award following her success in 2009. Dutch forward Eva de Goede is another nominated player who will be aiming to add this award to the Olympic Gold medal she collected in 2008 as a 19-year-old. The youngest player on the list is India striker Rani Rampal, who has already marked herself as a massive talent despite being just 15 years old. Argentina’s World Cup winning attacker Daniela Sruoga and China’s Zhao Yudiao complete the line-up, with both players making a big impression at the highest level in 2010.
The winners of the FIH Awards will be announced on Friday November 12 at a special ceremony in Montreux, Switzerland, the location of the 2010 FIH Congress and Forum.
FIH Men’s Player of the Year
Jamie Dwyer (AUS)
Moritz Fürste (GER)
Barry Middleton (ENG)
Teun de Nooijer (NED)
Jong Ho Seo (KOR)
FIH Women’s Player of the Year
Luciana Aymar (ARG)
Fu Baorong (CHN)
Soledad Garcia (ARG)
Natascha Keller (GER)
Maartje Paumen (NED)
Young Player Awards (for players born in 1987 or thereafter.)
FIH Young Men’s Player of the Year
Florian Fuchs (GER)
Tobias Hauke (GER)
Ashley Jackson (ENG)
Robert Kemperman (NED)
Nick Wilson (NZL)
FIH Young Women’s Player of the Year
Casey Eastham (AUS)
Eva de Goede (NED)
Rani Rampal (IND)
Daniela Sruoga (ARG)
Zhao Yudiao (CHN)
Picture: Andy Smith