Australian men’s hockey captain Mark Knowles has been named as the sport’s International Player of the Year for 2014. In the award was announced by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Thursday, Dutch superstar Ellen Hoog has been unveiled as the women’s International Player of the Year for 2014.
The International Goalkeeper of the Year titles were dominated by the Netherlands players as Jaap Stockmann and Joyce Sombroek took the respective titles. While, previously called the Young Player of the Year, the International Male and Female Rising Stars of the Year both went to Argentina with Gonzalo Peillat and Florencia Habif scooping the Awards respectively.
The 30 year-old from Rockhampton, Queensland, topped the polling after leading the Kookaburras to dual gold medal success as Australia clinched the World Cup and Commonwealth Games titles within six weeks of one another.
Knowles adds the international player crown to the World Cup Player of the Tournament and Hockey Australia Player of the Year awards he won in 2014. In Glasgow in August, Knowles was Team Australia’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony after winning his third Commonwealth Games gold medal.
In winning the award he came out on top of a five man shortlist, ahead of Kookaburras teammate Eddie Ockenden, Dutch pair Robbert Kemperman and Robert van der Horst, and England’s Ashley Jackson. For the first time ever, voting in the FIH annual awards was open to the public via Facebook with the athletes and coaches at the Champions Trophy also voting.
An Olympic champion capped 245 times for his country, Knowles took over the captaincy of the Kookaburras in January 2014 having previously served as a co-captain within the team’s leadership group. He led the Kookaburras at the World League Finals in Delhi in the same month before helping the team to a record eighth title at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in March.
In June he was part of the team that so stunningly defeated the Netherlands 6-1 in the World Cup final, collecting the Player of the Tournament accolade. In August, he played through the pain of a foot injury to marshal an Australian defence that conceded just four goals in its six games en route to winning a fifth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal. He missed December’s bronze medal-winning Champions Trophy campaign due to injury rehabilitation but is set to compete for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the Hockey India League beginning next week.
Kookaburras National Coach Graham Reid said of Knowles’ award, “Mark is thoroughly deserving of the recognition he has received. It was just 12 months ago that he took on the captaincy of the Kookaburras and he has not only thrived in the role but his performances on the field have been excellent. He has led by example through his strong and courageous play and set a great example for the rest of the team.
“It’s not easy to move from a leadership group to the outright captaincy and it’s the way that he has handled that move and put in the performances he has that marks 2014 as an outstanding year for him.”
Knowles previously won the FIH World Young Player of the Year award in 2007.
The full list of award winners:
International Male Player of the Year shortlist:
Ashley Jackson (England)
Robbert Kemperman (Netherlands)
Mark Knowles (Australia) – WINNER
Eddie Ockenden (Australia)
Robert van der Horst (Netherlands)
International Female Player of the Year
Maartje Paumen (Netherlands)
Lidewij Welten (Netherlands)
Ellen Hoog (Netherlands) – WINNER
Luciana Aymar (Argentina)
Lauren Crandall (USA)
International Male Goalkeeper of the Year
Juan Vivaldi (Argentina)
Andrew Charter (Australia)
Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh (India)
Jaap Stockmann (Netherlands) – WINNER
George Pinner (England)
International Female Goalkeeper of the Year
Rachael Lynch (Australia)
Belen Succi (Argentina)
Joyce Sombroek (Netherlands) – WINNER
Maddie Hinch (England)
Jackie Kintzer (USA)
International Male Rising Star of the Year
Arthur Van Doren (Belgium)
Christopher Ruhr (Germany)
Jeremy Hayward (Australia)
Akashdeep Singh (India)
Gonzalo Pelliat (Argentina) – WINNER
International Female Rising Star of the Year
Yang Peng (China)
Rani Rampal (India)
Florencia Habif (Argentina) – WINNER
Anna Flanagan (Australia)
Xan de Waard (Netherlands)