The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the Hockey Stars 2015 Coach of the Year and Umpire of the Year awards.
Great Britain assistant coach Karen Brown won the women’s Coach of the Year while Ireland’s South African coach Craig Fulton picked up the men’s Coach of the Year.
Gibraltar’s Nathan Stagno is named men’s Umpire of the Year while South Africa’s Michelle Joubert was awarded the women’s Umpire of the Year.
Women’s Coach of the Year, England and Great Britain assistant coach Karen Brown, is Britain’s most capped female hockey player of all time with 355 caps. She competed in three Olympic Games and won a bronze medal in 1992. Other playing highlights include a European gold medal, Commonwealth silver and numerous national titles with her club Slough.
Karen began coaching at Chelmsford in 2000 before moving into coaching positions with England U16, U18, U21 and the B programme. In 2005 she joined England Hockey as Junior Performance Manager, moving to assistant coach in 2006.
Since then, she has been part of the coaching team that has led England women to the EuroHockey Championships title in 2015 and bronze medals at the World Cup, Champions Trophy, two Commonwealth Games and three European Championships. With Great Britain, she was part of the coaching team that saw them win a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, finish sixth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and win a silver medal at the Champions Trophy in February 2012.
Men’s Coach of the Year – Craig Fulton gained widespread praise for leading Ireland to the Olympic Games for the first time in over 100 years. They qualified for Rio following their success at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium last summer.
During his playing career, Fulton won 191 national caps for South Africa during which he competed at the 1996 Atlanta and 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Following his retirement he has taken on several coaching roles within club and international hockey.
In addition to roles as assistant coach for Ireland men and South Africa men and women, Fulton enjoyed a successful spell with Irish club Pembroke, where he guided them to the Irish Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup double as well as the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy in 2009.
Craig’s compatriot, Michelle Joubert, voted women’s Umpire of the Year 2015, first picked up a whistle aged 22. Since then she has gone on to become only the second South African woman in history to achieve 100 senior international caps, recently receiving her FIH Golden Whistle at the Argentina Hockey World League Final in Rosario last December.
Michelle has officiated at two Hockey World Cups, in Rosario in 2010 and in The Hague in 2014, the London 2012 Olympic Games, plus one Commonwealth Games and two Champions Trophies.
Fellow umpire, Nathan Stagno, received the men’s Umpire of the Year award having also recently received an FIH Golden Whistle. He became the first Gibraltarian to make 100 senior umpire appearances during the Hero Hockey World League Final in Raipur, India last year.
Stagno has officiated at some of the sport’s biggest competitions, including the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 in the Hague, as well as two Champions Trophy events and a Commonwealth Games.
These awards are further recognition for both umpires who were selected by FIH to attend the Rio 2016 Olympic Games next summer.
Speaking about the Awards, FIH President, Leandro Negre, said: “Congratulations to Craig and Karen who have made a huge impact on the sport in 2016, both helping guide their teams to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games amongst some other key medal wins. Well done to our golden generation of umpires as well, which now includes Michelle and Nathan who have been rightfully recognised for their excellent performances on the field whilst officiating at our events last year.”
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. One of our ‘big goals’ is to increase the degree of professionalism throughout the sport. Coaching and officiating is crucial to achieving our aims. These awards showcase excellence in both areas and as a result I hope many others are inspired by these individuals’ outstanding achievements.”
This follows the news announced yesterday confirming the winners of the Player, Goalkeeper and Rising Star of the Year awards, which can be read here.
Athletes, Coaches and Umpires will be presented with their awards in their respective home countries over the coming weeks.