London: Olympic bronze medalist and former captain of the Indian national team PR Sreejesh has won the International Hockey Federation (FIH) 2020–21 award for the best goalkeeper in the world. India swept the annual awards, including this one. The men’s team, which won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, and the men’s women’s team, which finished 4th, each won three coaches. This is the first time that India has won so many awards.
Although Sreejesh was shortlisted for Best Goal in 2015 and 17, this is the first time he has won the award. Goalkeepers from Belgium and Australia reached the final round with Sreejesh. In the polls, Sreejesh received 47 per cent of the total votes of the National Associations, 59.46 per cent of the votes of the media and 79.9 per cent of the votes of the players and fans. Sreejesh has excelled in most sports, including a last-minute save at the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal match.
Belgium has been criticized for not receiving the annual award for a single player on their team, despite being men’s Olympic champions. The Belgian Hockey Association took to Twitter to say that the problem was voting inaccuracies and that in the future the prize would be decided in an impeccable manner.
The voting-based annual awards had six Indian players and two coaches in men’s and women’s categories. This is the first time that all nominees from India have won the prestigious awards in their respective categories.
Drag-flick sensation Harmanpreet Singh was the top scorer in India’s bronze medal-winning performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games. He was nominated for the award along with Belgium’s Arthur Van Doren and Alexander Hendrickx as well as Australia’s Jake Whetton, Tim Brand and Aran Zalewski.
Drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur won the ‘FIH Player of The Year’ award in the women’s category. She was nominated alongside Argentina’s Agustina Gorzelany and Agustina Albertarrio. The other nominees for the award were Netherlands’ Eva De Goede, Frederique Matla and Maria Verschoor.
Sreejesh, who won the ‘Goalkeeper of the Year’ award, had come up with a career-best performance at the Olympic Games. The other nominees in this category were Belgium’s Vincent Vanasch and Australia’s Andrew Charter.
Custodian Savita won the ‘Goalkeeper of the Year’ award in the women’s category. Savita, who was also the joint-vice captain of the women’s team at the Olympics, was outstanding in guarding India’s post and played an instrumental role in the team finishing fourth in Tokyo. The other nominees in this category were Great Britain’s Maddie Hinch and Argentina’s Belen Succi.
In the FIH ‘Rising Star of the Year’ category for men, Vivek Sagar Prasad won the award for the second consecutive time. He was nominated along with South Africa’s Mustaphaa Cassiem and Australia’s Sean Findlay. In the ‘FIH Rising Star of the Year’ category for women, Sharmila Devi won the award with maximum votes ahead of Great Britain’s Fiona Crackles and Argentina’s Valentina Raposo. Graham Reid got the ‘FIH Coach of the Year’ award. He was nominated along with Australia’s Colin Batch and Belgium’s Shane McLeod.
India in the award
# Best Male Player: Harmanpreet Singh
# Best Female Player: Gurjit Kaur
# Best Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh
# Best Women’s Goalie: Savita Poonia
# Best Future: Vivek Sagar Prasad
# Best Future Actress (Women): Sharmila Devi
# Men’s Team Coach: Graham Reed
# Women’s team coach: Sord Marin (* resigned from the Indian team after the Olympics
* Best Men’s Team: Belgium
* Best Women’s Team: Netherlands