Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri and women’s hockey team goalkeeper Savita Punia have been recommended by their respective sports bodies for the prestigious Arjuna and Padma Shri awards.
Hockey India recommendation for Padma Shri, Arjuna and Dhyan Chand award
Hockey India announced the recommended players for the esteemed Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award and Major Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement 2018.
Experienced midfielder Dharamvir Singh, Manpreet Singh and Indian women’s team ace goalkeeper Savita Punia have been recommended for the Arjuna Award while Sanggai Ibemhal Chanu and former India men’s captain Bharat Chetri have been recommended for the Dhyan Chand Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Hockey India also recommended coach BS Chauhan for the Dronacharya Award.
Speaking on the recommendations, Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, Secretary General, Hockey India said, “We are happy to endorse these hockey players who have immensely contributed to Indian Hockey. They have proven their worth with significant performances that has elevated the Indian Team to new heights. They have donned the India colours with pride and have given it their all to help the team win several accolades within the country and internationally. We at Hockey India are proud of their achievements and are happy to recommend their names for the National awards.”
Manpreet Singh, on the other hand, captained the Indian team in the absence of PR Sreejesh who was injured last year. Manpreet was part of the Asia Cup success where India beat Malaysia to lift the title. He also led the Indian team to a bronze medal at the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017.
With over 200 International Caps for the Indian Team, Manpreet Singh was part of the Indian Team that participated at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.
Manpreet Singh was part of the team that clinched an history Silver Medal at the FIH Champions Trophy in London last year, as well as a Silver in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He also has the Asian Games Gold Medal to his credit.
Indian women’s team goalkeeper Savita Punia has been a trusted guard in the Indian post over the past few years. The 27-year-old from Haryana was instrumental in India’s historic Asia Cup win last year where she made a stunning save in the penalty shootout that helped India beat higher ranked China in the final.
- Her performance was critical in helping India qualify for the World Cup as Continental Champions after a gap of 13 years. Savita has been part of the Indian team’s resurgence and was part of the Indian team that qualified for the Olympics after 36 years.
- Savita was also key member of the team that won the Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 and also played instrumental in the recently-held 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games where India made it to the semi-final after 12 long years and eventually finished fourth in the quadrennial event.
Other award nominations
Former India player Sanggai Ibemhal Chanu, recommended for the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award, was part of the Indian women’s team that won the 2002 Commonwealth Games Gold in Manchester followed by a Silver Medal in 2006, Melbourne.
In her international career spanning over a decade, Chanu has represented the country twice at the World Cup in 1998 and 2006.
Bharat Chetri, recommended for Dhyan Chand award is a former India Goalkeeper and Captain, who led the team in 2012 London Olympics. He was part of the Indian team that won Silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He also won a Bronze Medal at the 2010 Asian Games. Currently, he is mentoring the Indian goalkeepers both men and women.
Retired senior hockey coach BS Chauhan, recommended for the Dronacharya Award, has long served hockey as the coach at Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru. Ever-enthusiastic to develop hockey at the grassroots, BS Chauhan has also assisted the Indian team coaches and provided his full support when the teams were based out of SAI, Bengaluru.
Sunil Chhetri to be recommended for Padma Shri award
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is set to recommend Sunil Chhetri for the country’s fourth highest civilian award — the Padma Shri — a huge recognition for the nation’s all-time leading goal-scorer should he get the honour.
Chhetri leads the India chart with 56 goals from 97 appearances and is one of the forwards with better strike rates in world football.
The AIFF said that it was considering recommending a top player for the honour without confirming the name, but sources close to the apex body said it was Chhetri, as the federation recognises the Indian captain’s contribution to the sport.
“If there is one name in Indian football who deserves to be recommended for such a huge honour, it is undoubtedly Sunil Chhetri. The AIFF recognises Sunil’s contribution and has already looking at the criteria,” a well-placed source said.
When contacted by media persons, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das also said that the federation has recommended Jeje Lalpekhlua and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s names for the Arjuna Awards. Asked if Chhetri is being considered by the AIFF for the Padma Shri, Das did not confirm, but, in what seemed a giveaway, lavished rich praise on the 33-year-old star striker.
Padma awards are announced on the eve of Republic Day, January 26, every year.
This is why Sunil Chhetri is recommended for Padma Shri
- Last June, Chhetri became the fourth highest goal-scorer among active international players when he struck his 54th against the Kyrgyzstan, surpassing England’s Wayne Rooney.
- He was then behind USA’s Clint Dempsey, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of Argentina. The Bengaluru FC skipper, who began his career at Mohun Bagan in 2002 as a 17-year-old, is India’s all-time highest goal-scorer in international fixtures. Besides, he is also the all-time highest goal-scorer in the domestic league among Indians.
- Since then, he has played for 10 clubs across five states and three countries.
- In 2010, he travelled to US to play for Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City, but did not play a single match.
- In October 2012, he made his debut for Portuguese second-division outfit Sporting CP B, though he would make just two more appearances for them.