The Netherlands Robert Van der Horst and Lidewij Welten today won the men’s and women’s International Hockey Federation (FIH) Player of the Year awards, respectively, for their performances in 2015.
It was a hat-trick of awards for The Netherlands as Joyce Sombroek also bagged the women’s Goalkeeper of the Year for the second year in a row.
Ireland’s David Harte, meanwhile, claimed the men’s Goalkeeper of the Year award.
The Rising Star of the Year awards went to Great Britain’s Lily Owsley (women) and Germany’s Chrisopher Ruhr (men), the latter picking up this award for the second time in his career.
The winners of this year’s FIH Hockey Stars were decided by the combined results from online votes, which was open to everyone, and a peer vote from international athletes.
Netherlands captain 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 consistently came up with impressive performances at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final and Hero Hockey World League Final, one of the highlights of last year came in August when he led his team to the EuroHockey Championships title in London.
His compatriot, Netherlands midfielder Welten, continued to impress for the women’s team with her attacking flair and skills. Her ability to turn matches continues to contribute to the Netherlands dominance in women’s international hockey.
The women’s team 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 Sombroek. With someone as reliable as Sombroek standing at the last line of the Netherlands defence, the remainder of the team plays with huge confidence. Her dominance in the Dutch goal helped her team reach Rio Olympics, where they will aim to become the first women’s hockey team to win three consecutive Olympic titles.
Ireland men qualified for their first-ever Olympic Games since 1908 and much of the credit goes to David Harte, the Green Machine’s goalkeeper and captain.