The International Hockey Federation is pleased to announce the nominations for the FIH Player of the Year Awards. The annual prizes recognise the finest hockey players in the game as voted for by athletes representing the world’s best international teams.

Nominations for this prestigious prize have been put together by a panel of selected coaches from many of the world’s best international teams, including Max Caldas (Netherlands), Adam Commens (Australia), Carlos Retegui (Argentina), Lee Bodimeade (USA), Michael Behrmann (Germany), Danny Kerry (England & Great Britain) and Mark Hager (New Zealand) on the women’s side, and Ric Charlesworth (Australia), Markus Weise (Germany), Jason Lee (England & Great Britain), Pablo Lombi (Argentina), Shane McLeod (New Zealand) and Colin Batch (Belgium) on the men’s side. The winners will be determined from these shortlists by a vote amongst the players.

The nominees for the men’s FIH Player of the Year award bring together familiar faces with two of hockey’s current top stars Jamie Dwyer and Teun de Nooijer, who have taken the top honours four and three times respectively, and have kept the title between them since 2003 with only one exception. Fellow nominee Moritz Fürste is the driving force for Germany’s midfield and is nominated despite missing out on the Owen G Glenn FIH Champions Trophy due to injury, as is Germany captain Max Müller, the leader of one of international hockey’s most solid defensive lines. The fifth contender for the men’s top individual honour is Australian Eddie Ockenden, who at 24 years of age is the youngest amongst the nominees in the category, but has already won virtually all major titles with his team and manages to stand out in a side brimming with talent and skill. After claiming the Young Player of the Year in 2008, the Player of the Year would complete his collection.

On the list of candidates for the women’s FIH Player of the Year award, the name standing out is of course that of “the Magician”, as she is known in her country, Luciana Aymar, who has claimed the prize an incredible eight times since 2001. Challenging her in a year that has seen Argentina struggle a little after their hugely successful 2010 are 34-year old Germany striker Natascha Keller and 33-year-old South African Pietee Coetzee. Keller has had yet another brilliant year, leading her team into the final of the EuroHockey Nations Championships where she was also named as the best player of the tournament. South African Pietie Coetzee is nominated after a sensational comeback following five years of away from international hockey. On 21st June 2011, Coetzee became the all-time leading goal scorer in women’s international hockey, a record she looks likely to continue improving in 2012. Dutch captain Maartje Paumen, arguably women’s hockey’s most dangerous penalty corner flicker, steered her team to gold at both the 2011 Rabo FIH Champions Trophy and EuroHockey Nations Championships, taking the top scorer title in both competitions, while China midfielder Li Hongxia also caught the eyes of the nominating panel as a stand-out player this year.

 The shortlists for the FIH Young Player of the Year awards showcase some of the most exciting up-and-coming talents of the sport. For the women, the contenders include Willemijn Bos from the Netherlands, who received the Most Promising Player award at this year’s Rabo FIH Champions Trophy in Amsterdam in July; Katelyn Falgowski from the USA who was one of the driving forces in her team’s first ever Pan-American Games title and Black Sticks player Charlotte Harrison who despite her tender age is one of her teams most experienced players, having amassed 127 caps since her national team debut at the age of 16. Completing the line-up are Stacey Michelsen, a dangerous striker who like Harrison is also from New Zealand,  and Netherlands keeper Joyce Sombroek, who continued to shine this year after hitting the scene in spectacular fashion in the 2010 FIH World Cup.

On the men’s side, the FIH Young Player of the Year nominees feature top strikers Florian Fuchs from Germany and Nick Wilson from New Zealand, both considered to be amongst the most dangerous forwards in the world. They are joined by Florent van Aubel, who has become a key player in the hugely successful Belgium team that achieved direct qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games as well as winning the recent FIH Champions Challenge 1. The remaining nominees are Billy Bakker, one of the Dutch young guns who played a crucial role in the Oranje’s second place finish at this year’s EuroHockey Nations Championship, and Matthew Swann, a regular member of the all-dominating Kookaburras despite being one of the team’s youngest players.

The winner of the men’s awards will be presented with their prize at the Owen G Glenn FIH Champions Trophy in Auckland by FIH President Leandro Negre. The ceremony will take place during half time of one of the matches on Saturday, 10 December 2011 (exact timing to be confirmed). The women’s awards will be presented during the Argentina FIH Champions Trophy in Rosario.

The 2011 FIH All-Star teams will be decided by public vote on the FIH Website between 12th and 21st December.

Women’s FIH Young Player of the Year Nominees
Willemijn Bos (NED)
Katelyn Falgowski (USA)
Charlotte Harrison (NZL)
Stacey Michelsen (NZL)
Joyce Sombroek (NED)

Men’s FIH Young Player of the Year Nominees
Florent van Aubel (BEL)
Billy Bakker (NED)
Florian Fuchs (GER)
Matthew Swann (AUS)
Nick Wilson (NZL)

Women’s FIH Player of the Year Nominees
Luciana Aymar (ARG)
Pietie Coetzee (RSA)
Li Hongxia (CHN)
Natascha Keller (GER)
Maartje Paumen (NED)

Men’s FIH Player of the Year Nominees
Jamie Dwyer (AUS)
Moritz Fürste (GER)
Max Müller (GER)
Teun de Nooijer (NED)
Eddie Ockenden (AUS)