Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Graham Reid on Thursday said that FIH annual awards are a reflection of hard work and sacrifices done by players and support staff in the last two years.
Riding on their historic success at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Indian nominees made a clean sweep at the FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2020-21 by winning in all eight categories on Wednesday. It’s the first time that a country has won in all eight categories.
Gurjit Kaur was named as the best woman player while Harmanpreet Singh was the best male. Savita Punia and PR Sreejesh were chosen as the best goalkeepers in the world while Sharmila Devi and Vivek Sagar Prasad were elected as the best rising stars.
Graham Reid, who helped India win an Olympic medal after 41 years, and Sjoerd Marijne, whose women’s team finished a creditable fourth, were named the best coaches.
“It’s a great honour and these FIH awards are a reflection of a lot of work which has been done by a lot of people (players and support staff) in our group for the last two years. It is great to get some recognition for the group and it is also a reflection of hockey in India. It is a great thing for world hockey,” said chief coach Graham Reid.
“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,” he added.
Asked about the upcoming Junior World Cup, Reid said he is excited to work with the Indian youngsters and will help them in their preparations to defend the title.
“It is exciting to get this opportunity to see the young talent. They will get a lot of belief from how we performed in Tokyo. I have been working with them since I got back from Tokyo. This group will form part of the future,” he said.
Lauding the contributions of recently retired Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra and SV Sunil, the coach said that the trio had set an example for the rest of the world to follow.
The coach also highlighted the importance of including youngsters in the side, keeping future tournaments in mind.
“I think it is pretty normal after the Olympic Games. You have to look forward to the youth, you need a good mixture of players and that is what we are trying to do, bring in youth alongside experienced players.
“It was nice to see these three guys make the announcements and that’s what is always to be celebrated. It is fantastic to see the accolades that they got,” he added.