Congratulations to all the Winners at the FIH Hockey Stars 2016 Awards announced at a gala dinner in India in the past few days.
It was great to see Hockey have an actual awards ceremony to recognise the international players and coaches of the past year. It is the least that they all deserve.
Awards ceremonies will always create debate. People will frequently question why certain athletes were not nominated or did not win, and they will often put forward many strong and worthy arguments.
One phenomenon that seems to be happening at all levels of modern days sport, that as an ex-goalkeeper this writer feels needs to be addressed, is the fact that because they have their own award, a goalkeeper cannot win the major player of the year award.
We raised this issue locally with the State Football Awards where goalkeepers are not included in the match day allocation of points for the McInerney Medal and the chance of winning a car. They have a seperate category and referees are told to exclude them.
If we look at 2016, Great Britain’s Maddie Hinch would have had to have been a contender for Women’s player of the year at the FIH Awards, but because she was a goalkeeper she had to settle for that specialist award.
Hinch has had a remarkable two years. Her heroics in a shoot out against the Dutch in 2015 saw England win the Eurohockey Championships for the first time since 1991. Then Hinch was again the hero as Great Britain defeated the Dutch once again in a shoot out in the Olympic final. This was Great Britain’s first ever Gold medal in the event.
Hinch was in outstanding form in Rio. In the Pool games she only conceded four goals, only the Netherlands had a better record with Joyce Sombroek having conceded only one. Both players conceded three in the quarter and semi finals and both conceded three each in the final. Yet once again when it mattered Hinch rose to the occasion.
There are many in World Hockey who feel that her heroics under the bar in 2016 was the individual stand out performance of the year, in what was a wonderful team effort. Hinch may well say, and she is probably right, that the team gold means more than an individual accolade, but should goalkeepers be excluded from winning player of the year awards?
Too many sports have taken this stance and one feels that it is time for Goalkeepers of the world to unite and say that they wish to be judged equally alongside their team mates. Tell us what you think.