Everyone loves recognition. When a painter paints a masterpiece he wants the world to know and shower accolades on him for his creation. When an office goer works night and day to build his company’s reputation, he accepts recognition and a promotion from his seniors. A child who excels in academics, a person who sings well, they all want to share their talent and hear words of praise from known and unknown people. It is this recognition that motivates each and every person to strive for greater achievements.
But while, talent in India is given its due recognition is various avenues, the sportsmen, barring cricketers are mostly lonesome warriors. Like the sportsman portrayed in Nagesh Kuknoor’s acclaimed film Irfan where the protagonist goes against his father’s wish, fights poverty, physical handicap and tough selection procedures to ultimately become a winner, there are many young girls and boys in India who face these challenges in reality every day of their lives. And in spite of these problems, they excel. They bring back trophies from international events even if there is no one waiting to receive and congratulate them at the airport. They win close matches even if there is no one cheering for them in the stadium.
For long the only recognition that came to these sports stars of India was through the awards bestowed upon them by the Indian government. The Arjuna awards, Dronacharya awards, Khel Ratna Awards et al. But now, since last year one effort by the Sahara Group has finally brought the hidden talents of Indian sports into the limelight through the Sahara India Sports Awards.
These awards were started in 2009 to bring together sportsperson of all popular and not so popular sports played in India under a common platform. Regardless of whether a player plays cricket or excels in archery, the award recognise their talents and honour their achievements. And it not just the high flyers who are recognised. The awards also encourage young talents by closely watching their perseverance in the chosen field and recognising their potentials. Not forgetting the role of the gurus, the awards are also given to coaches, sports officials and administrators.
Event this Year
This year the Sahara India Sport Award is all set to happen in Mumbai on October 30th. There will be a total of 16 awards that will be given away in 15 categories including Best Young Achiever (Male); Best Young Achiever (Female); Memorable moment of the year; Team of the Year; Sportsman of the Year; Sportswoman of the Year; Cricketer of the Year (Male); Cricketer of the Year (Female); Outstanding Performance of the Year; Breakthrough Performance of the Year; Coach of the year; Outstanding Performance at CWG (Male); Outstanding Performance at CWG (Female); Unsung Hero (2); Legendary Honour.
Keeping the entertainment quotient high, the ceremony will also see some of the sizzling stars of bollywood like Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor, performing during the event.
To select the best of the best, the entire selection process goes through two phases. Phase one is where more than 400 members of Sports Journalists’ Federation of India (SJFI) from across the nation, nominate sportspersons from different sections of sports in different categories.
In the second phase the nominated sportspersons are shortlisted and the final awardees names are selected by a 14 member panel of living legends of sports. Undoubtedly, the names that arise from this tough selection procedure are of those young achievers who have battled their way to glory and deserve the recognition they are about to receive.
Who will win this year?
This year has been extremely rewarding for India as far as sports is concerned. It seems Indians have finally broken the jinx of being an average country in terms of sports achievers and truly shown its spark in a number of sports. Be it shooting, archery, wrestling, boxing, table tennis, badminton, golf or cricket.
Therefore the selectors will definitely have a tough time deciding on the winners. My bet on the people we will be seeing on the podium frequently will be – Arjun Atwal, the first Indian to win PGA tournament, Saina Nehwal, CWG champion and world No. 3 Badminton Player, Sushil Kumar, World wrestling champion, Mary Kom, World women’s boxing champion, Tejaswini Sawant, worlds women’s shooting champion and legendry cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni and Virendar Sehwag.
For the final results, we will just have to wait and watch.
But undoubtedly, for the legends of today and the champions of tomorrow, a pat on the back, few words of praise and a salute from the countries proud citizens is all they need to keep flying the tri colour high all across the world. The India Sports Award therefore is a commendable effort to finally give the Indian sports stars their hard earned spot in the limelight.