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Indian Express: John-John Dohmen, Naomi van As win FIH Player of the Year Awards (2/24/2017)
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Indian Express: John-John Dohmen, Naomi van As win FIH Player of the Year Awards

John-John Dohmen said it was 'amazing and a big surprise as well a huge honour to get the Award.'

Belgium captain and Olympic silver medallist John-John Dohmen and Netherlands’ Naomi van As won the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) male and female Player of the Year (2016) awards respectively at the gala FIH Hockey Stars Awards Ceremony.

For the first time in the sport’s history an awards ceremony was held to honour the best players, goalkeepers, rising stars, coaches and umpires.

There were two Indians in fray — captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh (Goalkeeper of the Year) and Harmanpreet Singh (Rising Star of the Year) but both returned empty-handed.

After receiving a number of noteworthy awards since her Rio 2016 success, Great Britain’s Olympic gold medallist Maddie Hinch admitted that winning the Hockey Stars 2016 female Goalkeeper of the Year was the pinnacle.

Ireland’s David Harte, meanwhile, was crowned the best in the world for the second year in a row as he received the male Goalkeeper of the Year.

92-year-old hockey legend Balbir Singh Senior, who was also present on the occasion, gave away the award to Harte. FIH President Narinder Batra gave away the awards to the Player of the Year, both in men’s and women’s category.

Belgium’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games medal success was a big factor in the nation’s athletes picking up two awards, with Dohmen’s compatriot Arthur Van Doren being named male Rising Star of the Year (aged 23 years and under).

Maria Granatto from Argentina picked up the female Rising Star of the Year after a hugely successful period which saw her team win the 2016 Hockey Champions Trophy, where she won Best Junior Player, as well as being crowned Hockey Junior World Cup champions in November.

Coach of Year awards in both male and female categories went to Great Britain with Danny Kerry winning the recognition in the men’s section and Karen Brown in the women’s section.

Both of them were not present and the awards were received on their behalf.

The male Umpire of the Year award went to Germany’s Christian Blasch while the recognition in the women’s category was bagged by Laurine Delforge of Belgium.

It is the first ceremony of its kind to recognise those who have made such a significant contribution to the sport. The FIH, in partnership with Hockey India, organised the Hockey Stars Awards 2016 ceremony that celebrated the success of the winners, providing an opportunity to reflect on what was a truly remarkable year for the game.

Later, interacting with the reporters, David Harte said as a teenager he used to tell his mother that “I do not want to be good, but the best.”

“My parents always encouraged me. I played a lot of sports all my life, but when I played hockey, I was absolutely hooked. It is an exciting and entertaining team sport,” he said.

John-John Dohmen said it was “amazing and a big surprise as well a huge honour to get the award.”

When asked if he would like to give any advice to the budding players, Dohmen replied, “I would like to tell them to continue to work very hard and play with passion, that is the most important thing.”

“Concentrate when you play and have focus,” he said giving away the mantra for the success.

Arthur van Doren said that it was a huge honour to win the award.

He also credited his team for the success. Maddie Finch said that for a women goalkeeper to come out on the top is extra special.

“I started when I was 13 years of age,” she said, revealing that there was no hockey in the family, but she picked up the sport which was introduced in the school.

Asked about women hockey versus men’s hockey, she replied, “I think there is still a distance between the two. I think in the UK there is bigger financial backing for the men’s hockey as against the women’s.”

When asked on a lighter note that who had suggested her to dress in a saree for the awards ceremony today, she replied, “it was my mother and couple of girls in the FIH. I have really enjoyed wearing a saree, which I purchased from Chandigarh yesterday.”

Naomi van As said it was a great honour to get the award. “I couldn’t have played last year the way I played without the support of my teammates,” the Dutch woman said. Speaking about the event, FIH President Narinder Batra said: “Sincere congratulations to all of the award winners today. I’m delighted that this stunning event has given them the global recognition that they deserve. Their performances and achievements in 2016 have inspired the next generation in their respective fields and they should all be very proud of their success.”

FIH CEO Jason McCracken added: “What a fantastic celebration of what was a memorable year for our sport. The winners here today are role models to so many people, whether young players or goalkeepers to those thinking about moving into coaching or officiating. These annual awards are hugely important in respect of raising the profile of our stars and our sport and key to achieving the Hockey Revolution’s aim of making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.

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