ARGENTINA’S AYMAR. SIMPLY THE BEST
Article and photographs from john coxon
The Confederation of Argentine Hockey, (CAH) are delighted to announce that Luciana Aymar has been honoured by her fellow players in the international hockey community , who voted for her to be named 2010 FIH (World Hockey Federation ) Player of the Year.
The FIH Player of the Year Awards Ceremony took place at a Gala Dinner for the FIH Congress and Forum, currently taking place at Montreux,Switzerland. They offered their congratulations to Zhao Yudiao of China , who won the FIH Young Player of the Year Award and becomes the first ever player from China to win an FIH Player of the Year award.
For Luciana, known to fans as Lucha ( Fighter ) La Maga ( The Magician) , Captain of the Argentine 2010 World Champions , Las Leonas (The Lionesses ) it was a record 7th title, an achievement which is unlikely ever to be bettered. Her player of the year award includes winning four times in a row in the last four year’s. She shared the accolade jointly with the Netherlands player, Naomi Van As last year, It rounded off a stunning year for the golden girl of Argentinean hockey who is idolized at home. She lead her team to become World Cup winners in 2008 , and this year to a great win over former World Champions Netherlands in the Word Champions Trophy at Nottingham earlier this year (when England took Bronze.) Luciana lifted the World Cup Trophy on the same day that she won her 300th international cap, and there she was also named as the Player of the Tournament.
Luciana has a huge fan base as have the team and individual players on Facebook , and indeed , following the World Cup, a Facebook sprang up seeking support to mothball Luciana’s famous shirt number 8 since how could anyone in the future merit it. Typically, Luciana herself was very much opposed to that suggestion and , at every interview since, has stressed that the success of Las Leonas lies in its ability to train and play as a team and she includes the entire technical staff in her definition of team.
The World Cup final was played in Rosario to a packed stadium with host fans creating a an incredible atmosphere and happy wall of sound that has never been equaled. During the tournament , Luciana produced a golazo ( an wonder individual field goal ) that has been a huge hit on You tube and compared to football ‘s Maradona’s most stunning goal by Argentine press. The team have been feted ever since at clubs, receptions and schools and very soon after the end of the tournament, the team were officially congratulated by the President of the country, Christina Fernandez , at the Pink House appropriately in a new Salon in government building dedicated to women and their achievements. She told the nation on television that Las Leonas set an example to the whole country showing what can be achieved when we work as a team which all Argentineans should follow. In fact , Fernandez, would have attended the final and was only prevented by her late husband, former president Kircher, who had been taken ill. As a mark of the immense respect that Luciana commanded, the president mobile phoned her personally to wish her and the team well at the final and to apologize for not being there.
Even before the World Cup final, Luciana had achieved celebrity status, but only very recently. Behind her current success there was a period when she dedicated her life to the game both at club and training and playing for the national team. This included a punishing routine of long journeys to and from the stadiums and a number of sacrifices where she but her other ambitions and personal relationships on hold. She is delighted with the press taking more notice of the team largely through their recent high profile success but, like Luciana, for perhaps a decade the team simply got on with training and playing , all amateurs with very little support or funding. In fact, media attention focused on Luciana she found that very difficult at first to cope with and at earlier press conferences she had to rely on notes given to her by the coach. Astonishingly, she had to seek professional help to give her the confidence she needed to cope with increasing media attention something she never sought.
Following a team celebration party in the capital after becoming world champions , Luciana left the team in the spotlight and retreated to her family home, the rock on which her incredible career was built. She was tired and wanted time out to reflect on her future and assess how to deal with so many opportunities now being offered her. Such is the respect for this woman, that the Argentine Federation gave her their consent to miss training when the whole team returned from their short break and to take her time to decide whether she would retire or not. Speculation was rife that Luciana would retire but she was given until February next year to decide. Luciana holidayed with family in the foothills of the Andes to the North of the country but even then visited local schools and hockey clubs to inspire youngsters. She has had support from the head of the leading Argentine model agency, Dotto, who has acted paternally as her manager. She travelled to the capital to support the team when they began training again. Finally, she recently announced that she will return to the team and wants to be involved in the game with an eye to leading her team mates at the 2012 Olympics. That will certainly be the time when she announces her retirement.
World Player of the Year Roll of Honour ( Source FIH )
1998 Alyson Annan (AUS)
1999 Natascha Keller (GER)
2000 Alyson Annan (AUS)
2001 Luciana Aymar (ARG)
2002 Cecilia Rognoni (ARG)
2003 Mijntje Donners (NED)
2004 Luciana Aymar(ARG)
2005 Luciana Aymar (ARG)
2006 Minke Booij (NED)
2007 Luciana Aymar (ARG)
2008 Luciana Aymar (ARG)
2009 Luciana Aymar (ARG) & Naomi van As (NED)
2010 Luciana Aymar (ARG)
2001 Angie Skirving (AUS)
2002 Soledad Garcia (ARG)
2003 Maartje Scheepstra (NED)
2004 Soledad Garcia (ARG)
2005 Maartje Goderie (NED)
2006 Mi Hyun Park (KOR)
2007 Maike Stockel (GER)
2008 Maartje Paumen (NED)
2009 Casey Eastham (AUS)
2010 Zhao Yudiao (CHN)
Courtois Straight Through to the Semis
– Pauline Courtois leads after first day