If you blinked you probably missed it as, after the three-year wait, the Indoor Hockey World has come and gone. Austria won their first ever title in the Men’s tournament while Germany established themselves as the leader in the Women’s game with their third title from five Hockey World Cups. Other than the obvious, there were some outstanding stories from the Indoor Hockey World Cup and I decided to pick out a few of my favourites.
Lee Baron – Top of the umpiring panel
If you don’t know the name of Lee Baron, that’s a good thing. The umpiring at times at the World Cup was inconsistent but the same cannot be said for the Englishman who capped off an incredible year with an appointment for the final. I first saw Lee in action in Swakopmund, where he umpired the African Cup Qualifier Final, with a superb approach to umpiring, he then added a SEAG Final, European Final and English Final. Although there are no FIH Hockey Awards for indoor hockey, there is no doubt in my mind that Lee Barron would win the umpire of the year if there was. Well done Lee!
Kiana (Kiki) Cormack – Goalscoring superstar
If you didn’t know the name of Kiana Cormack you will now. The 16-year-old became the darling of Berlin as she took on the World and ended on top of the goalscoring charts. She was the youngest member of the Namibian squad but stood head and shoulders above her peers. After Namibia lost their opening two games, Kiki sealed a hat-trick to secure a 3-3 draw with Australia, before popping up with a goal in the historic 3-2 victory over Ukraine. She added two goals in the disappointing 5-5 draw with Russia and added another 2 in the 9th place playoff against USA. That took her tournament tally to 9 goals and left her as the joint top scorer of the tournament. Her decision to represent her home country proved a good one for her as the youngster is now a name on everyone’s lips.
Michael Korper – Man for the big moments
In the final Korper played his 61st game of indoor hockey for Austria, he is still only 31 years old. In the tournament, he consistently scored goals when it mattered. His two goals against South Africa, one was truly sublime, took the match away from the African Champions, he added two more goals to help Austria secure a draw against Iran and maintain their unbeaten status. In the Quarter-Final he popped up with a goal in the 38th minute to secure a 2-1 win and scored both in a 2-1 Semi-Final win over Australia. He then saved the best for last, scoring his second to secure a 3-3 draw in the final against Germany from a last-minute penalty corner, he also scored twice in the shootout including the tournament winning goal. We all love a player that scores lots of goals, but that he scored them in all the big games made it that much more epic. Simon Martin, please make him a PSi All-Star.
Austrailia – Becoming an indoor hockey force
Australia has not really been a team that has taken Indoor Hockey as seriously as they have taken outdoor hockey. Listening to The Reverse Stick, you will hear that its a version of the sport that is short on funding and that the bigger names don’t take part. Such was the apathy towards indoor hockey that Australia has been hosting an outdoor hockey test series at the same time. All of this would surely point to Australia being cannon fodder in Berlin. But that did not happen, their men improved on their best ever finish in ending 4th while the Australian ladies finishing in 6th equaled their 2007 performance. What this means is that if the Qualification criteria remain consistent that Oceania would have the rights to two teams at the next Indoor Hockey World Cup. Time to take up NZ citizenship?
Iran – First Non-European Medalists
This is the third time Iran has gone to the Indoor Hockey World Cup. In 2011 in Poznan finished in 9th and then shocked the INdoor Hockey world when they finished 4th in Leipzig in 2015. They were determined to show that 2015 was not a flash in the pan and they have emerged as a real hockey force. After going through the group stage undefeated, including two draws, they managed to get through to the final four with a showdown victory over the Czech Republic. They were well beaten by Germany in the Semi-Final but dismissed Australia in a convincing bronze medal match. This meant that out of the 15 medalists over the five indoor Hockey World Cups, Iran became the first non-European team to win one. It’s epic!
So those were my five favourite stories from the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup, what were yours?