In great news which came out of Delhi last night, seasoned defender Deepak Kumar Mondal and striker Sunil Chhetri have been named amongst this years awardees for the prestigious Arjuna Award, the National Sports Award of India. The winner of all the awards will receive theirs from President Pratibha Patil on National Sports Day on August 29 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
For the first time ever in the history of the Arjuna Awards two footballers will be given the award in the same year. This comes as much-needed recognition for the national football team which has won the Nehru Cup 2007 & 2009 plus the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup to qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
Deepak has been a player with the Indian national team for over a decade, a dependable no-nonsense kind of guy on and off the field, while Sunil Chhetri has been the rising star of Indian football over the last few years and has now taken over the mantle from Baichung Bhutia as our lone international player abroad. And the Delhi lad has scored many crucial goals over the last few years for Team India in their title triumphs.
But on such a happy day we should not forget that some players have been overlooked for years and might never get the recognition that they deserve. I am talking about players like Mahesh Gawli, Climax Lawrence or a Renedy Singh who over the last few years have been the mainstay of the national team; have been part of this building process and have seen a lot over the last decade of Indian football. Hopefully some of them will get an Arjuna Award next year.
List of Awardees
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awardee: Saina Nehwal (Badminton)
Arjuna Awardees 2010: Joseph Abraham (Athletics), Krishna Punia (Athletics), Dinesh Kumar (Boxing), Parimarjan Negi (Chess), Jhulan Goswami (Cricket), Deepak Mondal (Football), Sunil Chhetri (Football), Sandeep Singh (Hockey), Jasjit Kaur (Hockey), Rajiv Tomar (Wrestling), Jajseer Singh (Paralympics), Dinesh (Kabaddi), Kapil Dev (Volleyball), Rehan Poncha (Swimming), Sanjeev Rajput (Shooting)
Dronacharya Awardees: A.K. Bansal (Hockey), N Ibomcha Singh (Boxing), Subhash Aggarwal (Billiards & Snooker), A.K. Kutty (lifetime, Athletics), Captain Chand Roop (lifetime, Wrestling)