Bengaluru: Late Captain Shankar Laxman won the coveted Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award while goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh and Deepika won the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year Award for Men and Women respectively at the Hockey India (HI) Annual Awards here on Saturday. "It's a great honour for me to be chosen as the Player of the Year. I dedicate this award to all my coaches, family members and friends who have encouraged me and pushed me to give my best to hockey. I hope this award will encourage youngsters to play the national game in right earnest," said Sreejesh. The best hockey players in India and former greats of the game came together for the awards, whose total prize money was in excess of Rs.2 crore.
The first set of awards marking important milestones in the careers of players began the proceedings. The Milestone Awards were presented to Dharamvir Singh, Kothajit Singh, Birendra Lakra and Sushila Chanu for making 100 appearances for India and were presented with a cheque of Rs.50,000. Gurbaj Singh and V.R. Raghunath were awarded for turning out in India colours 200 times and were presented with a cheque of Rs.1 lakh each. The second set of awards were given in recognition of individual achievements. The winners of the Individual Achievement Award for goal on debut were Devindar Walmiki, Harjeet Singh, Nilam Xess, Mohammad Umar, Gaganpreet Singh and Preeti Dubey. Raghuprasad R.V. was also felicitated for making his 100th appearance as an umpire internationally at the 2015 Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final in Belgium. The winners of the Individual Achievement Award received a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh each. To celebrate the historic occasion of the Indian women's team qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics after a gap of 36 years since the Moscow Games, the entire team and the support staff were felicitated. The members of the team were given a cash reward of Rs.1 lakh each.
Similarly, members of the youth men's team and the support staff that won the Junior Asia Cup were also awarded with cash prize of Rs.1 lakh each. High performing players in the tournament such as Vikas Dahiya, who was awarded Goalkeeper of the Tournament, and Harmanpreet Singh, for being awarded the Highest Goal-Scorer of the Tournament, earned a cash prize of Rs.1 lakh each. Then the senior Indian men's team collected their award for winning the bronze at the HWL Final in Raipur in December 2015. Sreejeesh, who played a crucial role under the bar, was also awarded for receiving the Fans' Choice Award during the same tournament. Outstanding individual performances in 2015 were also recognised. The winners of the 11 Annual Awards were: President's Award for Outstanding Achievement to Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Jaman Lal Sharma Award for Invaluable Contribution to Baldev Singh, Baljit Singh Goalkeeper of the Year Award to Savita, Pargat Singh Defender of the Year Award to Kothajit Singh, Ajit Pal Singh Midfielder of the Year Award to Ritu Rani, Dhanraj Pillay Forward of the Year Award to Rani. Each of these individual awards carried a cash prize of Rs.5 lakh. The Asunta Lakra Upcoming Player of the Year Award (Women Under-21) was presented to Preeti Dubey and the Jugraj Singh Upcoming Player of the Year Award (Men U-21) was presented to Harjeet Singh. Each received Rs.10 lakh. The ceremony ended with the presentation of the eagerly awaited Player of the Year Awards for Men and Women and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sreejesh and Deepika walked up to thunderous applause to collect the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year Award for Men and Women respectively. The winners received a glittering trophy and prize cheque of Rs.25.00 lakh each. "I am overjoyed to be selected for the coveted award in recognition of my efforts. I have always strived to give my best playing for the Indian team. Without doubt, this recognition will continue to spur me to do even better in the years to come," said Deepika. The final award of the day -- Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award -- carrying a cash prize of Rs.30 lakh was awarded to late Captain Shankar Laxman in recognition of his accomplishments and contribution to India's national sport. "I am extremely happy and humbled to be receiving an award on behalf of my father whom I am sure would be honoured by an award that carries Major Dhyan Chand's name. I am thankful to HI for this recognition of my father," said Manohar Singh Shekhawat, who accepted the award on behalf of Laxman.