The FIH Annual Awards were revealed a couple of days ago and it sparked a lot of controversies as India swept all the awards. The awards are given based on voting done by the fans and hence teams like Netherlands and Belgium (Gold Medallist at the Tokyo Olympics in Women’s and Men’s event) revolted against the way the awards were handed out by the FIH.
Recently, Indian Men’s team head coach Graham Reid felt that the awards were the recognition of the commitment and the sacrifices made by his entire team in the last year and a half. The Indian Men’s Hockey team broke a 41-year old jinx and won the Bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. It was a fantastic Summer Games for the Indian teams as the ladies also performed their hearts out and lost the bronze medal match against the United Kingdom.
When asked about the controversies surrounding the awards, the Australian said, “Look, as coaches and players we have nothing do with how things are chosen or the system. We just go out there and play to our best. It is a recognition of the work put by this team, including the support staff.”
“There is a lot of work gone into this. I see this as a reflection of the sacrifices and work put in for the last 16-18 months by this team during the lockdown. I haven’t seen my kids for 2 years,” he added.
Indian men’s team vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh won the men’s ‘Player of the Year’ award and Gurjit Kaur was recognised as the best player in the women’s section. While Savita Punia and PR Sreejesh won the best goalkeeper awards, Sharmila Devi and Vivek Sagar Prasad were adjudged as the best young players.
Graham Reid also did not want to get into the debate of whether the Indian team should have participated at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. He mostly highlighted how his team needed to win the gold medal at the next year’s Asian Games to earn a direct qualification to the Paris Olympics in three years time.
It will be interesting to see how Reid nurtures new talents as the team saw the retirement of three of their most experienced players like Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra and SV Sunil. Both Rupinder and Lakra played big roles in India’s triumph in Tokyo and it will be very important for the new players to fit in Reid’s system as the defence will be key for India at the Asian Games.