Indian footballers dejected at being ignored for Arjuna awards

August 6th, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, Aug 6 (IANS) Indian footballers were disappointed after being ignored for the fifth consecutive time for the prestigious Arjuna awards. This year four footballers - Mahesh Gawli, Deepak Mondal, Climax Lawrence and Renedy Singh - were nominated by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) but none was selected despite the Indian team’s winning run in the last one year.

AIFF secretary general Alberto Colaco, sounding helpless, said: “if the selection committee does not select any footballer what can we do”.

I.M. Vijayan was the last footballer to receive the Arjuna Award in 2003.

Gawli, who has been the recipient of the prestigious Jarnail Singh award, said deserving sportspersons are being left out.

“I think they don’t consider football as a sport. We just had two losses over a period of one year. Can you show me one reason why we don’t deserve it? The awards are given to undeserving candidates and it has always happened like that,” Gawli told IANS.

The Dempo defender also spoke for his club coach Armando Colaco, whose name was recommended for the Dronacharya Award.

“I think he is one of the best coaches in the country. He even helped Dempo qualify for the AFC Champions League. Do you have any coach in any discipline with Armando’s credentials?” asked Gawli.

India captain Bhaichung Bhutia, who received the Arjuna exactly a decade back, also wore a disappointed look after learning that none of his teammates was selected.

“Obviously it is very disappointing when the efforts are not recognised. Having received the Arjuna, I know the importance of it,” said Bhutia, who is a member of the committee that decides the Arjuna awards.

Bhutia though was unable to attend the meeting of the committee as he was doing national duty.

Asked whether the AIFF is doing enough to back its players for the award, Bhutia said: “The federation at best can recommend the names of the players and it depends on the committee to decide who are the deserving players. And if the efforts of the footballers are not recognised, what can the federation do?”

Defender Mondal said that it was demoralising for the players to be treeated in this manner.

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