The custodian is the only footballer in the list of 19 sportspersons.
Indian national team and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is the only footballer to be nominated for the prestigious Arjuna Award this year. His name was recommended to the government by the Selection Committee for Sports Awards which was formed very recently.
The Arjuna Awards celebrate excellence in the field of sports and are awarded by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India. Meetings were held on the 16th and 17th of August and a 12-member panel announced their selections for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the Dronacharya Award and the Arjuna Award.
Included in the list for this year’s Arjuna Awards nominees are Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav while Bajrang Punia and Deepa Malik’s names have been recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Gurpreet won the award for the best goalkeeper in the Indian Super League last season where he was an integral part of his team Bengaluru FC’s championship winning run. He is a regular with the national team and won the SAFF Cup in 2015 held in Kerala. Gurpreet also won the Hero Super Cup with Bengaluru in 2018 which was earlier known as the Federation Cup which he won with East Bengal in 2011 along with four consecutive Calcutta Football Leagues.
The goalkeeper made history when he became the first Indian to feature in the first team of a top division European club and also the first to play a UEFA Europa League match when he appeared for Norwegian club Stabaek in a Europa League qualification match on 30th June 2016.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made his debut in the national colours in 2011 when he was surprisingly named in the 23-man squad for the AFC Asian Cup. His first game ended in a 1-1 draw with Turkmenistan. Since then, he has 33 caps to his name with the national team and has been mostly reliable under the bars.
Since its inception in 1961 when the legendary PK Banerjee received the honour, 22 footballers have won the prestigious Arjuna Award. Sunil Chhetri was the last one to be bestowed with the honour in 2011. Prominent names of Indian football like Bhaichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan have also received the award in the past.
List of recommendation for Arjunda award: Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (athletics), Mohammed Anas Yahiya (athletics), S Bhaskaran (body building), Sonia Lather (boxing), Ravindra Jadeja (cricket), Chinglensana Kangujam (hockey), Ajay Thakur (kabaddi), Gaurav Singh Gill (motor sports), Pramod Bhagat (para sports-badminton), Anjum Moudgil (shooting), Harmeet Rajul Desai (table tennis), Pooja Dhanda (wrestling), Fouaad Mirza (equestrian), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (football), Poonam Yadav (cricket), Swapna Burman (athletics), Sundar Singh Gurjar (para sports-athletics), Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth (badminton), Simran Singh Shergill (polo).