Indian hockey star Mandeep Singh believes individual recognition is not as important as the team's success. Although he expressed happiness at being nominated for 2 awards at the Hockey India annual awards, he added that the team's success was more critical for him.
Hockey India has announced the list of nominated players for the various award categories that would be presented at the 3rd edition of the Hockey India Annual Awards scheduled to be held on 8th March.
Mandeep Singh has been nominated for 2 awards by Hockey India - Dhruv Batra Player of the Year 2019 (Male) and Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year 2019.
The Dhruv Batra Player of the Year award carries a cash price of ₹ 25,00,000. Apart from Mandeep, Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Surender Kumar are the other nominees for this award.
The "Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year" carries a cash price of ₹ 5,00,000. Indian women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Navneet Kaur are the other nominees for this award along with Mandeep.
Indian men's hockey team forward Mandeep Singh expressed delight at being nominated for 2 awards at the 3rd edition of the Hockey India Annual Awards but emphasised that it was the team's achievements that was more critical to him. He gave the credit for the nomination to the team's hard work and the success they have achieved over the last couple of years.
"I am happy to be nominated for the awards and I am nominated only because of my team's hard work and success last year. These awards are a big motivation for players as the team gets an opportunity to work harder"
Mandeep added that the year 2019 was very special for the team as they qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 and he was satisfied with his personal performance as well.
"However, individual successes are not as important as the team's achievements. Last year was very special for us. We qualified for the 2020 Olympics at home and my personal performance was good too"
Mandeep had an outstanding 2019 and played a pivotal role in the Indian hockey team's victories at the FIH Series Finals, Olympic Qualifiers and other important tournaments. For the record, Mandeep scored a total of 20 goals for the team in critical tournaments with 8 goals at the 28th edition of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, 6 goals at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 test event and 2 goals each at the Olympic Qualifiers, FIH Series Finals and India's tour of Belgium.
Mandeep added that watching his teammates winning awards at the 2nd edition of the Hockey India Annual Awards had motivated him to work harder and believed that getting such an award in front of the whole hockey fraternity was extremely special.
"When I saw my teammates win Hockey India Awards in 2016, I was very inspired to work hard for my team. I am sure it's a very special moment to receive awards in front of the whole hockey fraternity"
Mandeep was delighted about the performance of the Indian hockey team in the FIH Pro Hockey League. The men's hockey team have started the year brilliantly by defeating a strong Netherlands team in both the matches of the FIH Pro League held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. They followed that up with fighting performances against the World Champions Belgium and Australia at the same venue.
The Indian team won the first match against the Belgians but lost a close second encounter. Even though they lost the first game against Australia, they came back fighting to win the next game in a penalty shoot-out. The team is currently in the 4th position in the FIH Pro League standings just behind Australia on goal difference.
"We have started the FIH Hockey Pro League very well. We played good matches against Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. The team is carrying out practice sessions day by day and all players are supporting each other during training and matches"
He signed off by stating that the team does not let the pressure get to them and these matches against the top teams only helps them in assessing themselves before the all-important Tokyo Olympics 2020.
"We have never let pressure affect our performances. This competition serves as a good platform to test ourselves against top teams in the world ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics"
All the Indian hockey stars would be looking forward to the gala Hockey India Annual Awards on 8th March. But their main focus will be on the upcoming matches of the FIH Pro Hockey League and the biggest sporting extravaganza, the Tokyo Olympics 2020.