Coetzee up for World Player of the Year

9 December 2011

Superstar South African striker Pietie Coetzee, the goal-scoring world record holder, has been included as a finalist in the International Hockey Federation's (FIH's) Player of the Year nominations.

The annual prize recognises the finest women's hockey players in the game as voted for by athletes representing the world's best international teams.

On 21 June this year, Coetzee became the all-time leading goal scorer in women's international hockey when she scored four goals against 2011 Pan American Games winners the USA during the Champions Challenge tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

Previously, the record of 220 goals had belonged to Russia's Natasha Keller.

Busy programme

With the Investec SA team poised to play plenty of test matches in 2012, including over a dozen matches against Spain, Ireland and Belgium at the Kaspersky Randburg Hockey Stadium from 15 January 15 to 6 February, before the team moves to Delhi in India for the Olympic Qualifier tournament from 15 February to 26 February, it is a record Coetzee will certainly embellish further.

Coetzee is currently being rested for two Four Nations tournament, which take place this month in Argentina. The 33-year-old should be refreshed and raring to go next year, and ready to add to her 226 goals in 228 test matches.

Incredibly, the the Bloemfontein-born former Oranje Meisieskool goal poacher has attained the record despite retiring from the international game for five years, in the prime of her career. She returned to international hockey at the September 2010 World Cup in Argentina.

When she retired, at the age of 27, she had scored 191 goals in 193 test matches. Since she returned to the international stage, she has picked up where she left off, netting 35 goals in 35 test matches.

Nominees

Coetzee faces stiff competition for the Player of the Year Award. Topping the list is Argentina's Luciana Aymar, known as "The Magician", who has won the award an incredible eight times since 2001.

German striker Natascha Keller, who led her country to the final of the EuroHockey Nations Championships, where she was named Player of the Tournament, is also in the running.

Dutch captain Maartje Paumen, arguably women's hockey's most dangerous penalty corner specialist, who steered her team to gold at both the Champions Trophy and EuroHockey Nations Championships, taking the top scorer title in both competitions, is another finalist.

China midfielder Li Hongxia, who also caught the eye of the nominating panel as a standout player this year, completes the elite list.

Selection process

Nominations for the prestigious prize were put together by a panel of selected coaches from many of the world's best international teams.

The women's awards will be presented during the Champions Trophy in Rosario, Argentina, next month.

The 2011 World All Star team will be decided by public vote on the FIH website between 12 December and 21 December.

SAinfo reporter

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Pietie Coetzee celebrates her world record setting 221st goal in a 5-5 draw against the USA in Dublin, 21 June 2011 (Photo: South African Hockey Association)

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