What can be said about Alyson Annan that has not already been said. As a player, she was phenomenal: her 166 goals for Australia remains a national record and she has two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2000) and two World Cup gold medals (1994 and 1998) to her name. She twice won the FIH Player of the Year Award. Now, as a coach she is continuing to instil winning ways into her team.
The Netherlands, under Annan’s skilful guidance, sailed through 2018 unbeaten. In fact, their unbeaten record at major internationals extended back to the 2016 Olympic Games final.
“Keeping it simple and playing a good passing game is much harder than it sounds.”
- Alyson Annan
Prior to winning this year’s Female Coach of the Year award – the second consecutive year that she has done so – Annan was also inducted into the Australia Hall of Legends. She is only the third hockey player to have been given that honour, after Ric Charlesworth and Rechelle Hawkes.
The secret to her success is “keeping it simple”. As she says: “Keeping it simple and playing a good passing game is much harder than it sounds.” At their superb best, the Dutch make it look easy. The ball travels smoothly from player to player and there is something achingly wonderful about a goal that has resulted from 10-15 silkily smooth passing moves.
Speaking at the recent Wangliabo Hockey Champions Trophy in China, Annan repeated the mantra of simplicity but added that within a squad you have to integrate many types of players. “There are those players that create and play the most wonderful 3D game. There are others who work and work. A team needs a good balance of those players. And then it is about playing the game well and making the right decisions. My job is to help the players make the right decisions.”