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Dutch Dominate WorldHockey Players of the Year

WHO's editor Cathy Harris was in Sydney and reports on the awards ceremony at the Oneworld Sport Bar in Parramatta…

Talk about Dutch delight! It was pretty much a clean sweep for the Netherlands as they grabbed three of the four awards at a lunchtime ceremony at the One World Sports Bar in Parramatta during the BDO women’s Champions Trophy. The individual trophies were presented by Jenny Morris, a former Hockeyroos Olympic, World Cup and Champions Trophy gold medallist now working as a television commentator for ABC.

If there was one player who deserved the accolade it was Teun de Nooijer who captured the senior men’s prize after being nominated five times! His broad smile said it all as he stood alongside Mijntje Donners (senior women), Maartje Scheepstra (young women’s) and Australia’s Grant Schubert (young men’s).

'It is a great honour' said de Nooijer, the dazzling midfield player capped over 250 times for his country and with a goal record of almost one every other match. 'Every year there is a big discussion as to who should win and I’m very proud to be one of three Dutch players.'

He described 2003 as a great year, especially winning the Champions Trophy where the Netherlands also featured in a thrilling encounter against India, scoring four goals in the last six minutes to snatch victory. 'The worst was the European Nations Cup when we came fourth. We never played well and I think we were tired.' De Nooijer, 27, who literally jetted in and out of Sydney for the ceremony, returned to leave his two female compatriots enjoying their moment of glory.

'It means a lot to me and I’m very happy and proud to have won it' said Donners. 'But you don’t win an award like this on your own – it’s because I play in a great team.'

Donners, 29, admitted she would definitely be retiring after the Athens Olympics saying: 'I’ve been all around the world and every pitch, every stadium and every hotel room is beginning to look the same.

The Dutch captain has a similarly impressive record to de Nooijer, having scored over 80 goals in a career numbering over 200 internationals.

Another goal scorer who has wasted no time in making his mark on the international stage is Australia’s forward, Grant Schubert, 23.

In an astonishing start to his career he netted 10 goals in 11 games and the Adelaide player was delighted to be recognized by coaches and journalists from around the world.

He said: 'I’m shocked, but I’ll take it' he laughed. A landscape gardener and part time waiter, he has set his sights on Athens. 'It’s my complete focus for the year' he admitted. In between, he may find time to fit in a little basketball and cricket which he enjoys, and coming from Adelaide, he also keeps a close watch on Aussie Rules Football.

The only defender to triumph was Maartje Scheepstra, 23, a physiotherapy student from Amsterdam. Her outstanding performances at the World Cup in Perth along with more rapid improvement throughout 2003 earned her the honour.

But she‘s clearly not one to let the honour go to her head saying: 'It is fantastic to be noticed but I take everything as it comes, I don’t stand still.'

Hockey is sure to see more of the player born in Iran Jaya (west New Guinea) who can already boast a European Cup gold medal, World Cup silver and a bronze and silver Champions Trophy medals in her collection.

International Hockey Federation secretary-general Peter Cohen hailed the four winners as magnificent role models in world hockey.

He said: 'Our game is blessed with outstanding players who represent their countries and their sport with distinction, and we are proud to acknowledge these four champions of the year and thank them for their part in making world hockey a better game for their presence and skills.'

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Events 2005
| Oceania Cup, Women, Auckland/Sydney
| Oceania Cup, Men, Suva
| Samsung Hockey Champions Trophy, Women, Canberra
| Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy, Men, Chennai
| Full Tournament Calendar

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