IANS

India men's hockey team defender and vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh has been voted the FIH Player of the Year for the second year running.

The 26-year-old, who has a knack for being at the right place at the right time, got the award for his goal-scoring ability, which has gone up a level this past year as multiple teams have found his penalty-corner drag flicks impossible to deal with.

His scoring record includes an incredible 18 goals from 16 games, with two hat-tricks, in the Pro League 2021/22. With those 18 goals, he ended the season as the top scorer for India and now holds the record for the most goals scored by a player in a single season of the Pro League.

Harmanpreet was also in terrific form at the Asian Champions Trophy Dhaka 2021, where he scored eight goals in six games, scoring in every single game as India finished on the podium. His performances were also crucial to the Indian team as it won silver at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Harmanpreet now becomes just the fourth player to win the Player of the Year award (men's category) in consecutive years, joining an elite list that includes Teun De Nooijer (Netherlands), Jamie Dwyer (Australia), and Arthur van Doren (Belgium).

Harmanpreet's total points tally stood at 29.4 points, followed by Thierry Brinkmann with 23.6 points and Tom Boon with 23.4 points.

Felice Albers of Netherlands has been named the FIH Players of the Year 2021/22 in the women's category.

At the age of 22, Felice's trophy cabinet is already filled to the brim. She has been a part of the Dutch team in their gold-winning campaigns in the Pro League (2019 and 2020/21), Euro Hockey Championship 2021, Tokyo Olympics, and the Women's World Cup 2022.

Felice broke into the Dutch national team in 2019, on the back of great performances at the junior level where she switched between midfield and attack. Since making her debut for the senior team, she has primarily played as an attacking midfielder, playing at the base of the attack and being involved in much of their offensive creativity. She also poses a serious goal-scoring threat to the opponents, scoring 16 goals in her 32 international appearances thus far.

Netherlands scored 42 goals in 16 games in the Pro League 2021/22, and 17 goals in six games at the Women's World Cup Spain and Netherlands 2022, and Felice played a major role in their offensive output as the creator-in-chief of a stellar Dutch team that finished second in the Pro League and won a third consecutive gold medal at the World Cup.

With this win, she becomes the youngest winner of the FIH Player of the Year award (women's category) since Germany's Natascha Keller (1999) and the second youngest ever, since the inception of the awards in 1998. Her total points tally stood at 29.1 points, narrowly edging Maria Granatto (26.9 points), in one of the closest races of the FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2021-22. Agustina Gorzelany finished in the third place with 16.4 points.

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