Ireland’s Fulton, England’s Karen named 2015’s best hockey coaches

Lausanne, Jan 27 (IANS) The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Wednesday announced Ireland’s South African coach Craig Fulton and England and Britain’s assistant coach Karen Brown as 2015’s Coach of the Year in the men’s and women’s categories respectively.

Gibraltar’s Nathan Stagno was named men’s Umpire of the Year while South Africa’s Michelle Joubert was awarded the women’s Umpire of the Year.

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 (HWL) Semi-Final in Antwerp in Belgium last summer under the guidance of Fulton, who played 191 times for South Africa.

Karen, Britain’s most capped female hockey player with 355 caps, was part of the coaching team that has led England women to the European title in 2015.

Fulton’s compatriot, 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 HWL Finals in Rosario last December.

Fellow umpire, 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 HWL Finals 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.

“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,” FIH president Leandro Negre said in a statement.

“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.”

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