The All India Football Federation (AIFF) nominated talismanic Indian forward Sunil Chhetri is being nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, it is the country’s highest sporting honour. On the other hand, AIFF nominated Women’s football spearhead and Rangers FC player Bala Devi for the Arjuna Award.
Both the players have been excellent ambassadors of the sport over the years. They are trailblazers who can inspire an entire generation to follow their path of passion. They have been path breakers in their own rights and it is time they get the right recognition for their efforts both nationally and internationally.
“We have recommended Sunil Chhetri for the Khel Ratna and Bala Devi for Arjuna Award,” an official source told PTI on condition of anonymity.
“We have also recommended Gabriel Joseph for Dronacharya Award,” the source added.
The 36-year-old talismanic striker who has scored 74 International goals in only 118 games is undoubtedly a living legend in Indian football. Chhetri has shown the way to thousands of young kids with his grit and determination to follow their passion. He recently scored a brilliant brace against Bangladesh in India’s 2-0 win over them at the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The brace took him to the fourth spot among the highest active goalscorers in international football. He is only behind Ali Mabkhout of the United Arab Emirates, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He is also the leading Indian goalscorer in the Indian Super League with 47 goals. He is second in all-time record, only one short of Ferran Corominas leading with 48 goals.
The Indian skipper has already received awards like the Padma Shri (2019), the country’s fourth highest civilian honour, and the Arjuna Award (2011).
The 36-year-old has signed a new contract with Bengaluru FC keeping him at the club till 2023. He will be looking to help the Blues achieve greater heights in the upcoming Indian Super League season.
Coming to Bala Devi, the forward is nothing short of a trailblazer in Indian football. She has taken inspiring steps in Indian football encouraging more players to play abroad. The 31-year-old became the first Indian woman professional footballer to play in a top-flight European league. She is currently plying her trade for Rangers FC in the Scottish Premier Division. She also became the first Indian to score in a European top flight.
She also won the AIFF Women’s Player of the Year award in 2014 and 2015. Her legacy will continue for a long time in India for making the nation proud all over the globe. If she bags the Arjuna Award then she will join other footballers like Oinam Bembem Devi, Bhaichung Bhutia, IM Vijayan, Sunil Chhetri and many others.