Presenting the 2019 IHF Female World Player of the Year nominees

02 Jul. 2020

Presenting the 2019 IHF Female World Player of the Year nominees

As part of the celebration and lead up to the first annual International Handball Week, the IHF is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2019 IHF Female World Player of the Year. The nominees were decided in January by a panel of 18 experts, comprised of nine top coaches and nine IHF experts. 

Thirteen nations and three continents were represented among those players considered as nominees for the Female World Player of the Year award, with Norway, Spain and Russia having the strongest representation with four players each. 

Fans will decide the award winner between the five finalists (more information below). The winners will be announced at the end of International Handball Week on 18 July. And the nominees are…


Anna Vyakhireva – Russia / Rostov-Don
Right back

Russian right back Anna Vyakhireva was a key player when her team claimed the bronze medal at the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship in December 2019, as well as earlier in the year when her club Rostov-Don reached the final of the Champions League. Vyakhireva ranked clearly at the top of the competition in assists at the World Championship, with 62, and was Russia’s second top scorer with 45 goals.

Her performance at Japan 2019 earned Vyakhireva the All-star Team right back position, and she was also the All-star Team right back in the Champions League 2018/19 season. Recently, Vyakhireva was named Champions League 2019/20 All-star Team right back, which is another nod to her performance in 2019, when the first half of the season was played.

In addition to her international achievements in 2019 on both a club and national team level, Vyakhireva celebrated domestic success with Rostov-Don, winning the 2018/19 Russian championship.

Estavana Polman – Netherlands / Team Esbjerg
Left back/centre back

As the Most Valuable Player of the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship, Estavana Polman played a critical role in the Netherlands’ trophy-winning success. Polman ranked among the top scorers at Japan 2019, with 58 goals, and was fourth in assists, with 43. Along with her MVP award, Polman was named All-star Team centre back at the World Championship. 

With her club, Team Esbjerg, Polman had a great year in 2019. The 2019 season ended with Esbjerg claiming their second Danish championship trophy in history, as well as reaching the final of Europe’s second-tier international competition, the EHF Cup. For the 2019/20 season, Esbjerg moved up to the premier club competition, the Champions League. 

Polman was instrumental in all club competitions for Esbjerg. She finished as the fourth top scorer overall in the EHF Cup 2018/19 and also ranking among the top scorers in the Champions League in the first half of the 2019/20 season. 

Stine Bredal Oftedal – Norway / Györi Audi ETO KC
Centre back

Stine Oftedal’s biggest achievements in 2019 were in club competitions, as she was a key part of Györi Audi ETO KC’s retention of the Champions League title after winning her first trophy with the club in the previous season. For her role in the 2018/19 season, Oftedal was named the Champions League All-star Team centre back. Györ also won the Hungarian championship in 2018/19. 

Later in 2019, Oftedal led Norway as captain at the IHF Women’s World Championship. At Japan 2019, Norway reached the semi-finals and ultimately ranked fourth. Oftedal was Norway’s leading scorer and the seventh top scorer overall at the World Championship, with 51 goals. She also finished third in assists, with 47. 

Lois Abbingh – Netherlands / Rostov-Don
Left back

Alongside Polman, Lois Abbingh was the critical element for the Netherlands’ world title win in December 2019. Abbingh was the top scorer of the World Championship, with 71 goals – and it was her 71st that secured the trophy for the Netherlands. She also made 30 assists. 

Earlier in the year, playing alongside Vyakhireva with Russian club Rostov-Don, Abbingh reached the final of the Champions League and also won the Russian championship. She was Rostov’s top scorer in the 2018/19 season, with 63 goals. 

Tess Wester – Netherlands / Odense Håndbold 

Dutch goalkeeper Tess Wester capped 2019 by winning the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championship with the Netherlands. She was named the Japan 2019 All-star Team goalkeeper, after making 107 saves – the second highest number in the competition. 

On a club level, Wester clinched third place in the Danish championship with her club Odense. Odense reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League 2018/19, but were knocked out by Györ in that stage. For the 2019/20 season, Odense contested the second-tier EHF Cup. 

Voting details

This year, the IHF will incorporate the voting and announcement of the 2019 IHF World Player of the Year and 2019 IHF World Coach of the Year awards into the celebration of the first annual International Handball Week from 12 to 18 July. Fan voting for players and coach of the year will run from Friday, 3 July until 00:00 CET on 18 July. The IHF will announce the winners on 18 July. 

In order to vote, you must be logged in. Then, click on IHF Awards, choose your category and vote for your 2019 IHF Female World Player of the Year.