The event may have been a low-key one but it was a graced by many of the big names in Indian football.
The Football Players Association of India (FPAI) held its annual awards function at the Calcutta Sports Journalist Club in Kolkata on Tuesday. The All India Football Federation Vice President Subrata Dutta was the Chief Guest for the event and handed out many of the important awards.
To kick-off the awards show, the Fans Player of the Year award was given to NEROCA FC’s Subhash Singh. The winger had a prolific season with the club and had attained the most number of votes in an online poll which was taken by the FPAI. The Young Player of the Year went to Jamshedpur FC‘’s Jerry Mawihmingthanga, who scored a lot of important goals to help his side make an impact in their debut Indian Super League (ISL) season.
The Coach of the Year was awarded to former Bengaluru manager Alberto Roca, who helped the side reach the ISL final and win the inaugural Super Cup. The Blues achieved even more success in the awards ceremony, as their hitman Miku was awarded the Foreign Player of the Year.
But, the big one, which was the Indian Player of the Year, was awarded to India national team captain Sunil Chhetri. The captain had made the journey to Kolkata after winning the Intercontinental Cup a few days ago and seemed to be delighted to be a part of the event. He also answered a few questions from the press and spoke about the reaction to his passionate video on social media creating an uproar in Indian football.
He said: “I didn’t think too much before sending the video. We played very well against Chinese Taipei, but the poor crowd outing made me really sad. The fact that the ISL games were filled and a national team game got such less attendance made me sad. I just got up one morning and decided to post the video and I’m really appreciative about how the prominent personalities and fans have shared it to get more people into watching and attending the matches.”
Chhetri was also asked about equaling Lionel Messi’s tally of International goals and proved his simplicity by saying, “Whenever I see the kind of meme comparing me with him, I become happy for five seconds and forget about it. Messi and Ronaldo are on a completely different level and I don’t want anyone comparing me with them. I’m only looking to make my country proud and help us improve on the footballing front.”
He also spoke about the importance of the Intercontinental Cup and said, “The Intercontinental Cup was a great preparatory tournament for us. But, the Asian Cup opponents will be levels above our opponents in the Intercontinental Cup. We will try to do our best in the Asian Cup and go in with the best preparation after everyone assembles in the camp on December 5.
Bengaluru FC’s Chief Executive Officer Mandar Thamne was also falicitated with special memorial plaques during the event, along with Indian Football legend Subrata Bhattacharya. Some other prominent personalities of Indian football in the likes of Henry Menezes, Sanjoy Sen, Pradip Chaudhury and Ranjit Bajaj were also among those who were falicitated for their immaculate contribution to the Indian game.
Chhetri was also awarded a special memoriam of his own for making 100 appearances for the Indian national team and received the award exactly 13 years after scoring his first ever international goal on his debut against Pakistan.
Dutta was himself presented with a memorium for being a “mentor” for Indian football over the years. He also spoke to the press during the ceremony and said, “Ever since I became a part of the AIFF in 2004, I have seen India grow as a footballing nation.”
“On my last trip to Saudi Arabi, I was welcomed tremendously well by everyone which proved how much Indian football is respected. FIFA has given us $5-6m dollars for the development of a national training center in Kolkata”
He continued: “The priority given to Indian football these days is completely different than what we got back when I joined in 2004. I wish the FPAI will achieve its goals in the near future and will be able to have a big gala event from next year onwards.”
The General Secretary of the FPAI, Cyrus Confectioner also gave a statement on why the event was a low-key one this time and said, ”We are actually short on money, which is why we couldn’t have a gala event this time like we’ve had before. We have been investing the money into constructing a four-story building here in Kolkata, which will be the FPAI Headquarters.”