Lily Owsley, the England and Great Britain forward has been named as the FIH’s Rising Star of the Year for 2015. The award which replaced the FIH World Young Player of the Year prize is decided by the combined results of an online vote and a peer vote from international athletes.
The University of Birmingham star who made her international debut back in June 2013 held off stiff competition from Xan De Waard (Netherlands), Charlotte Stapenhorst (Germany), Rose Keddell (New Zealand), and Maria Verschoor (Netherlands) to take the prize.
It has been a successful year for Owsley and her teammates with the 21-year-old playing a pivotal role in Great Britain’s unbeaten run at the World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, a competition which Danny Kerry’s side won and in the process, secured Olympic Qualification. Owsley netted the winning goal in the semi-final against Germany to help Great Britain to seal their place in Rio.
A fast, skilful, brave and hard-working player, the No26, who has 74 England and GB combined caps to her name has produced some scintillating hockey this past year. Her crowning moment was at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships. In front of a home crowd, Owsley and her England team mates put together an unbeaten run to the final where she scored a late equaliser against the Netherlands to take the match to a shootout, which England subsequently won. Owsley and her team mates will be looking to repeat the trick when Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre hosts the Champions Trophy this June, just weeks ahead of the Rio Olympics.
A delighted Owsley told England Hockey: “Individually this is the biggest award I could have won, but really I’m lucky to win it and lucky to have so many fantastic team mates around me. I couldn’t do anything without them making me look good! The quality of the other players was so high; I can’t quite believe I’ve won. It’s such a massive honour.”
Team mate Alex Danson was nominated in the FIH World Player of the Year category which was won by Lidewij Welten of the Netherlands whilst Maddie Hinch was nominated in the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year category which was taken by Joyce Sombroek, also of the Netherlands.
In the men’s categories, Netherlands captain Robert Van der Horst picked up the Player of the Year award while Ireland’s David Harte won the men’s Goalkeeper of the Year. The Rising Star of the Year award went to Germany’s Christopher Rühr, picking up this prize for the second time in his career.
Speaking about the awards, FIH President, Leandro Negre, said: “Congratulations to Lidewij, Robert, Joyce, David, Lily and Christopher who rightly deserve this global recognition for their consistently exceptional performances during 2015.”
He continued: “The ambition of the Hockey Revolution, our ten-year strategy for hockey, is to make it a global game that inspires the next generation. These athletes are making this ambition a reality through their stellar performances on the pitch and their commitment to growing the game of it. I hope they use these awards to drive others to achieve excellence and in doing so inspire the next generation of athletes coming into our sport.”
Players will be presented with their awards in their respective home countries over the coming weeks.
Along with these awards, the FIH will also be awarding a Coach of the Year and an Umpire of the Year Award as part of Hockey Stars 2015 which will be announced tomorrow, on 27 January.
Report courtesy of England Hockey.