Lausanne, Jan 15:
Australian captain Mark Knowles was Thursday named the International Hockey Federation (FIH) 2014 Player of the Year.
The 30-year-old central defender Knowles, who led the team to the 2014 World Cup title and Commonwealth Games gold, got maximum votes ahead of England’s Ashley Jackson, teammate Eddie Ockenden, and two Netherlands players Robbert Kemperman and skipper Robert van der Horst.
India’s P.R. Sreejesh and Akashdeep Singh were nominated for the Goalkeeper and Rising Star of the Year categories, respectively. However, they lost out to Dutch custodian Jaap Stockmaan and Argentine drag-flicker Gonzalo Peillat, respectively. Peillat was a major force behind his country’s first-ever third place finish in the World Cup.
Stockmaan began the year winning the ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the Hockey India League (HIL), playing for Punjab Warriors and was hugely consistent for his team, who won the 2014 Hockey World League final and finished runner’s up at the World Cup.
Stockmaan was pushed all the way to the title by four other very talented goalkeepers — England’s George Pinner, Australia’s Andrew Charter, India’s Sreejesh and Argentina’s Juan Vivaldi.
In the female section, Dutch star Ellen Hoog was declared the women’s Player of the Year.
Versatile midfielder Ellen made her international debut at the age of 17, and has two Olympic golds, two World Cups and a Hockey World League title to her name as well as numerous other championships. Like Knowles, she was also player of the tournament at the 2014 World Cup.
Ellen faced tough competition from teammate and previous double winner of the title Maartje Paumen and eight-time title winner Luciana Aymar, who retired after leading Argentina to victory in the 2014 Champions Trophy.
These three were joined in the shortlist by another player from the World Cup winning Dutch team Lidewij Welten and by United States captain Lauren Crandall.
Dutch Joyce Sombroek was awarded women’s Goalkeeper of the Year. Joyce, who has been the Dutch goalkeeper since 2010, had a fantastic year exemplified by the World Cup win where she and her team only conceded one goal throughout the tournament.
Joyce was shortlisted alongside four others — Australia’s Rachael Lynch, American Jackie Kintzer, England’s one-on-one specialist Maddie Hinch and Champions Trophy heroine Belén Succi.
Argentine Florencia Habif, Peillat’s girlfriend, was named Rising Star of the Year. Florencia, who was in the shortlist for the 2013 award, came up trumps in 2014 following fabulous displays throughout the year, in particular in front of her home crowd as Argentina won the Champions Trophy.
Florencia saw off strong challenges from four of the most exciting young players in the women’s game, including the Netherlands Xan de Waard, previous winner Australia’s Anna Flanagan, previous nominee, India’s Rani Rampal and China’s Yang Peng. IANS