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FIH Hockey Stars Awards: Hardik is Player of the Year; Savita voted Goalkeeper of the Year (Female) again

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS) India’s Hardik Singh was on Tuesday named the Male Player of the Year for the year 2023 by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), finishing ahead of Niklas Wellen of Germany in the online voting.

Xan de Waard of the Netherlands was adjudged FIH Player of the Year – Female while India’s Savita was voted FIH Goalkeeper of the Year – Female while Holland’s Pirmin Blaak was adjudged the FIH Male Goalkeeper of the Year in the votes polled by Expert Panel, National Associations – represented by their respective national teams’ captains and coaches, fans and media representatives.

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André Henning, who guided Germany to the World Cup triumph early in 2023, and Alyson Annan of Australia, who helped China win gold medal in the Asian Games in Hangzhou and clinch a direct berth in the Olympic Games in Paris next year, were declared winners of the men’s and women’s FIH Coach of the Year awards respectively.

The Indian fans were left elated as Hardik Singh was voted for the top award, finishing ahead of a top-class field of shortlisted players.

Hardik bagged 34 percent of the total votes polled while Niklas Wellen got 30.3 percent. The others that were in the fray included Theirry Brinkman of the Netherlands, Jeremy Hayward of Australia and Zach Wallace of England.

Hardik, the vice-captain of the Indian men’s senior national team, polled the highest votes among fans, media, and National Associations with 6.5, 12.2 and 7.3 percent while Wellen got 3.5, 2 and 4.9 percent votes. He polled 20 percent votes to 8 by Hardik in votes cast by the FIH Expert Panel, thus finishing behind Hardik in total votes polled.

“With 114 caps to his name, Hardik is the next big thing in Indian Hockey. He rightly showcased that, when he became a vital cog in India’s bronze-medal win at the 2020 Olympics and his performance has gone from strength to strength since then,” the FIH informed in a release on Tuesday.

This is Hardik’s second big award this year as he was also awarded the Hockey India Balbir Singh Sr. Award for Player of the Year 2022. With his flamboyance in the midfield, he has become one of the pivotal members of the Indian team in recent years. This award will be a big boost for the 25-year-old who is on his way to becoming a legend!

“When you’ve got a great team, they make your game better and life easier. I am grateful for all those who have voted for me and thankful to the entire team and Hockey India for helping me reach this stage,” said the current vice-captain of the Indian men’s hockey team.

“You can be voted the player of the year only if you have the backing of top coaches, good support staff and good teammates and seniors. Hopefully, in the next year, we’ll do our best. The Olympics is our main target, and we’ll focus on it. Thank you for your help. Thanks to my seniors — Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh –who inspire me to do my best,” Hardik was quoted as saying by the FIH in a video message on its website.

Xan de Waard winning the women’s Player of the Year Award did not come as a surprise to many. De Waard’s skills on the pitch along with her leadership qualities made her the clear winner. Not a regular goal-scorer, but someone who sets up the tone for the world’s No.1 Hockey team. With more than 200 matches to her kitty already at the age of 28, Xan de Waard has achieved so much in the game already and still has a bright future.

Savita won her third successive FIH Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year Award, after winning it in 2021 and 2022. The Indian custodian has been in prolific form throughout 2023. Starting from the Test matches in Australia to the recently held Asian Games, Savita has been on top of her game.

The 33-year-old helped India emerge as the Champions of the Asian Champions Trophy held in October in India. She will be looking to help India qualify for the Paris Olympics with a top-three finish at the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier 2024 in January next year.

“Thankful to all my teammates and support staff who have helped me grow as an individual. This award will motivate me to work harder and get more success for our country. Lastly, thankful to all those who voted for me,” the Indian skipper said.

Pirmin Blaak narrowly edged out Vincent Vanasch, the Dutch custodian bagging 31.55 percent votes while the Belgian got 31.49.

Pirmin Blaak, the world-class shot-stopper, who helped the Dutch clinch a commendable third position at the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup in India this year, has been awarded the FIH Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year, just pipping Vincent Vanasch (BEL) in the voting by the tiniest of margins. The 35-year-old starred in the Dutch team’s first-place finish in Season 4 of the FIH Hockey Pro League earlier this year, the FIH informed in a release on Tuesday.

Alyson Annan, the Australian legend and the current Head Coach of the Chinese women’s hockey team who guided them to a historic Asian Games gold medal this year confirming their place at Paris 2024, won the female FIH Coach of the Year award.

A top-notch forward during her playing days, Annan coached the Dutch to consecutive podium finishes at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. She then joined the Chinese hockey team in May 2022 and is now building the Asian giants to be one of the best in the world.

André Henning, the mastermind behind the German men’s hockey team’s triumph at the World Cup this year, has won the Male Coach of the Year award. In his last two years as the Head Coach, Henning’s strategic brilliance has played a pivotal role in making Germany a formidable side on the world stage.

Henning’s coaching style is filled with discipline, a winning mentality, and a strong team spirit, making him a source of inspiration for players and coaches alike.



(This report is auto-generated from IANS news service. 'Main Media' holds no responsibility for its content.)

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