Dutch import Bart Schenkeveld and American star Lauren Barnes brought an international flavour to Melbourne City’s Player of the Year awards, being named Melbourne City’s A-League and W-League Players of the Year respectively in a ceremony on Monday night.
The 26-year-old Schenkeveld arrived in Bundoora from Dutch Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle, who are managed by former City boss John van ‘t Schip, in August of last year.
The Dutchman, who struggled with multiple injuries in his youth and early playing career in the Netherlands, started 25 games for City this season, leading his side in interceptions (52), passing accuracy (90.8%) and duels – both on the ground and in the air – won.
The award was voted on by the City coaching staff, who recognised Schenkeveld’s key role in leading the City defence to nine clean sheets this season, a club record.
Speaking after presenting the award to his centre-back, City head coach Warren Joyce, who jokingly said that the medals would not be able to fit over Schenkeveld’s head during the presentation, praised the work the Dutchman.
“Bart is a strong and passionate player for us,” Joyce said.
“(He’s) adjusted well to the A-League, but most importantly has provided a key link between defence and midfield.
“He’s played a pivotal role in breaking down the opposition and moves the ball forward quickly.
“We wanted to build the team’s foundations around a strong defensive setup and Bart has helped to drive the team from the back.”
Barnes, who was playing in her second season with City and is currently plying her trade with the Seattle Reign in the NWSL, was a picture of consistency throughout the 2017-18 W-League season.
The 28-year-old played every minute of every game en route to helping City record an unprecedented W-League threepeat.
Already recognised by her peers with a berth in the in the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) W-League Team of the Year, Barnes led the W-League in total passes as she and her fellow City teammates kept a league-high seven clean sheets.
Remarking on the Californian’s season, City’s W-League head coach Paddy Kisnorbo was effusive with his praise.
“Lauren has been exceptional for us in an outstanding team,” Kisnorbo said.
“She is one of the most hard-working and dedicated athletes, plays with her heart on her sleeve and set out to achieve wonderful things with this team.
“She has been a positive and inspirational role model for our younger players who led by example throughout the season.”
In other awards handed out on the evening, Nathanial Atkinson was recognised for his breakout NPL season and A-League emergence with the Rising Star Award, Daniel Arzani cemented his reputation as the darling of the City faithful with the Supporters’ Player of the Year award, Luke Brattan and Steph Catley were awarded the Clubman and Coaches Award winners for the A-League and W-League sides and Josh Cavallo, a former Melbourne Victory youth prospect who has blossomed since switching to Bundoora, was recognised for his outstanding Y-League campaign with the Y-League Player of the Year award.