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India’s Hardik, Savita win accolades in FIH Annual awards

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Indian player Hardik Singh during a practice session on January 17, 2023.

Indian player Hardik Singh during a practice session on January 17, 2023.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Indian men’s hockey team midfielder Hardik Singh and women’s side captain Savita on Tuesday won the FIH Player of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year (women) awards respectively.

The awards were declared following a vote by an expert panel, National Associations — represented by their respective national teams’ captains and coaches, fans and media.

With 114 caps to his name, Hardik is the next big thing in Indian hockey. He rightly showcased that, when he became a vital cog in India’s bronze-medal win at the 2020 Olympics and his performance have gone from strength to strength since then.

This is Hardik’s second big award this year as he was also conferred the Hockey India Balbir Singh Sr Award for Player of the Year 2022.

With his flamboyance in the midfield, he has become one of the pivotal members of the Indian team in recent years.

“When you’ve got a great team, they make your game better and life easier. I am grateful for all those who have voted for me and thankful to the entire team and Hockey India for helping me reach this stage,” said the current India vice-captain.

As for Savita, this is her third consecutive FIH Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year award, having won the recognition in 2021 and 2022.

The Indian custodian has been in prolific form throughout 2023. Starting from the Test matches in Australia to the Hangzhou Asian Games, Savita has been on top of her game.

The 33-year-old helped India emerge as the champions of the Asian Champions Trophy held in October in India. She will be looking to help India qualify for the Paris Olympics with a top three finish at the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifier in Ranchi in January next year.

“Thankful to all my teammates and support staff who have helped me grow as an individual. This award will motivate me to work harder and get more success for our country. Lastly, thankful to all those who voted for me,” she said.

Xan de Waard of the Netherlands has been elected as 2023 FIH Player of the Year in the women’s category.

Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak won the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year awards among men, while the awards for FIH Rising Stars went to Teresa Lima (Spain) and Gaspard Xavier (France).

China women’s head coach Alyson Annan and Germany men’s head coach André Henning won the FIH Coaches of the Year awards, while Ayanna McClean (Trinidad-and-Tobago) and Ben Göntgen (Germany) were awarded with the FIH Umpires of the Year recognitions.

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