Graham Reid feels that the multiple awards won by the national team players at the FIH Hockey Stars Awards is a reflection of the hard work put in by a lot of people in the group. India's Harmanpreet Singh and Gurjit Kaur won the FIH Player of the Year awards in the men's and women's categories.
Riding on their historic success at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, the Indian nominees made a clean sweep at the FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2020-21 by winning in all eight categories.
Winners Gurjit Kaur (FIH Player of the Year, Women), Harmanpreet Singh (FIH Player of the Year, Men), Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year, Women), PR Sreejesh (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year, Men), Sharmila Devi (FIH Rising Star of the Year, Women) and Vivek Prasad (FIH Rising Star of the Year, Men) all believe that the awards were an outcome of a collective effort and it also brings with them greater expectations to come up with a consistent performance at major tournaments.
Chief Coach of India’s men’s team, Graham Reid, and former India Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne too grabbed the highest number of votes in their respective categories and they thanked the team and the support staff apart from thanking the fans who voted for them.
Talking to the Indian media during a virtual press conference, the winners of the FIH Stars Awards spoke about what this award means for them and the way forward for their team ahead of a hectic season.
Excerpts from the Virtual Press Conference:
Harmanpreet Singh, (FIH Player of the Year, Men): "It is everyone's support, including the coaching staff, who have been showing faith in me since day one, and I think that's what matters to me more. I am happy that have I won this award, but it is only because of the support of my team."
Gurjit Kaur (FIH Player of the Year, Women): "It was a big thing for me to get nominated for this prestigious award alongside the star players from different parts of the world, and having won this prestigious award, it feels like a dream come true for me. I really can't believe that I've won the Player of the Year Award. I reckon it's all because of the support that I've received from my teammates and coaches."
PR Sreejesh (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year, Men): "Wherever we go for a tournament, there are a lot of expectations from us. Even in the previous Olympics people had expectations that Indian hockey should win a medal, and now we have finally proved it, which I think gives us more responsibility to keep that rhythm going. As we are looking forward to the 2024 Olympic Games, I think all these accolades and Olympic medal gives us more responsibility to take tournaments seriously and work hard to win more medals for our country."
Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year, Women): "I don't know how but I missed out the message in the team group. But my team decorated the room for us and informed me that I've won the Goalkeeper of the Year Award. I was totally surprised after knowing this. I am happy that I've got this big recognition."
Vivek Sagar Prasad (FIH Rising Star of the Year, Men): "When I won this award first time in 2019, our coach had told me that you'll have to work harder because every other team's focus will be on you, so it's still the same thing that I should keep working hard, and take up more responsibilities for my team. This recognition will motivate me to do even better and help me improve my game at the same time."
Sharmila Devi (FIH Rising Star of the Year, Women): "It's like a surprise for me, didn't expect it coming my way. Was really happy about being nominated, and the other two players were really strong contenders. So, I didn't imagine I would win this, but I am happy that I got this award. The credit goes to my teammates, seniors and coaches who have helped me a lot in improving my game."
Chief Coach Graham Reid (FIH Coach of the Year, Men's Team): "It's a great honour and these individual awards are a reflection of a lot of work which has been done by a lot of people in our group for the last two years. It's nice to be recognised and I think winning a medal after 41 years probably awakens a lot of people to follow hockey again. It's fantastic to get such a tremendous response here in the country since we have been back from Tokyo."