Lausanne, Feb 13 (IANS) Australia’s Colin Batch and Netherlands’ Alyson Annan have been announced as 2019 FIH men’s and women’s coach of the year respectively.
Batch was appointed head coach to Australia in December 2016, following a three-year spell coaching the New Zealand men’s team. Early in his coaching career, he had been assistant coach to the Kookaburras during a remarkable successful period in their history that had seen them win Olympic gold in 2004 and silver at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.
During his four-year tenure, the team has continued to find ways to win. The Kookaburras won gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the 2018 Champions Trophy, the 2019 Oceania Cup — where they qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — and the first edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League. They also beat England 8-1 on route to bronze in the 2018 Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup. The team has also been in a back and forth battle with Belgium over the number one position in the FIH World Rankings.
“We have our own very high expectations,” he said in an interview ahead of a FIH Hockey Pro League clash with Belgium. “Every time we go out, we set out to achieve as highly as we can.”
Alyson, on the other hand, is the third head coach of the Netherlands women to win the coach of the year award (2017 and 2018).
The Netherlands women’s team is seemingly unassailable under Alyson’s leadership and guidance. In the FIH Hockey Pro League, the team was magnificent. They lost just one game — to Australia — and Alyson’s imaginative use of a large squad drew praise from coaches and players alike. The team won 15 of its 16 games, scoring 41 goals and conceding just 10.
The success continued with the EuroHockey Championships. While the Netherlands got off to a shaky start by their standards, drawing 1-1 with Belgium, by the knockout stages they were in unassailable form.
They swept 2015 champions England aside in the semi-finals by an 8-0 score-line before beating Germany 2-0. The result meant they qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the one trophy, as head coach, that Alyson is still chasing.
“In any team you need a blend of players who will work hard and players who can create. My role is to put the right players on the pitch. And then, it is just about doing the simple things very, very well,” said Alyson.