New Delhi, Feb 13 IBNS | 10 months ago

In a first for Indian football, All India Football Federation (AIFF) presented the 'Indian Football Awards' at the FICCI Federation House in New Delhi on Thursday.

People from the world of sports, members from the AIFF Executive Committee, AIFF Sponsors, Marketing Partners and the Corporate World graced the occasion.

AIFF Technical Director Robert Baan, National Coach Wim Koevermans, AIFF Technical Director Academies Scott O'Donell, the Director of Coach Education and former Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia were present at the event.

National Team Captain Sunil Chhetri, who was unanimously voted the 2013 AIFF Player of the Year by Club Coaches from the Airtel I-League, received the award from Wim Koevermans, Subrata Dutta, senior vice-president, AIFF and A.R. Khaleel, Chairman, I-League Committee and also a member of the AIFF Executive Committee.

Chhetri, presently the highest Indian goalscorer in international football with 43 goals had earlier received the Award in 2007 and 2011. Besides the Trophy he was presented with a prize of Rs. 2 lakh.

"It's a huge honour to be receiving it in front of such an audience. I need to thank AIFF for the gesture and want to dedicate it to my family. It's for them what I am today," Chhetri said.

"Sometimes Awards can make you complacent and if you become so, then it doesn't take time for your form to dip. All these years I have learnt to deal with adulations and criticism in a normal way. Honestly, I'm still learning," he said.

2013 woman footballer of the year Bembem Devi thanked AIFF for the recognition.

She was presented the Trophy by Robert Baan, Technical Director, AIFF, K.M.I. Mather, Vice-President, AIFF and Justice Mukul Mudgil (Retd) Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, and received a prize of Rs. 1 lakh besides the trophy.

"My happiness knows no bounds. It is after 13 years that I have won this Award again. A lot has changed since then but not the excitement. I am elated," Bembem told www.the-aiff.com.

"I am 33 today. AIFF gave me the boost when I was starting and at the twilight of my career they have recognized my contribution. I can't ask for anything more. Thank you, AIFF," she said.

Besides, Jeje Lalpekhlua was awarded the 2013 AIFF Emerging Player of the Year.

He was presented a prize of Rs. 75000 besides the trophy.

The trophy was presented by Bhaichung Bhutia and Avinash Pant, Director Marketing, Nike India Pvt. Ltd.

Jeje, who has scored 14 International Goals so far, felt the 'award makes him more confident'.

"Sharing the platform with Bembem Devi and Sunil Chhetri, both of whom I have looked up to in my professional career is a privilege for me. I need to thank AIFF for conferring this Award to me," the 22-year old Jeje Lalpekhlua said.

He said: "This is only an inspiration to do better. This makes me more motivated."

The AIFF also presented 2013 AIFF Award Best Referee to Pratap Singh and the 2013 AIFF Award for the Best Assistant Referee to Biplab Poddar.

Pratap, a veteran of 86 International matches which includes the match between Argentina vs Venezuela in Kolkata, Bayern Munich vs India in New Delhi, eight matches from AFC Champions League, 14 matches from AFC Cup, AFC Challenge Cup matches, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, AFC U-16, U-19, U-22 matches, AFC Suzuki Cup matches, the World Military Games, etc, is also a member of the AFC Elite Panel of Referees.

"A Referee's job is a thankless one. You cannot lose focus even for a single split second. But the fact that I have been conferred the Award means that I have done a good job," Pratap, who has supervised more than 300 domestic matches, told www.the-aiff.com.

"I need to thank AIFF for feeling me good enough for the Award. The institution of this Award will only inspire the generation of Referees to do better," Pratap said.

Pratap was presented the Award by VK Mahendru, General Manager (Civil) Head Sports, ONGC, Henry Menezes, CEO, Western India Football Association and Rajpal Singh, Director, FICCI Sports Committee.

Furthermore, the 2013 AIFF Best Assistant Referee was awarded to Biplab Poddar. Poddar has officiated in over more than 80 matches at the domestic level and was also on duty for the International Friendly between Argentina and Venezuela and the exhibition match between Bayern Munich and the Indian national team.

Poddar told www.the-aiff.com: "I am speechless. I just don't what to say. This is a recognition of all my hard work. The pain which I have taken up in my life seems to be successful today. There's a path ahead and I need to work harder."

"I am indebted to AIFF for this Award," he said.

Meanwhile, the 2013 Award for the Best Grassroots Programme was awarded to Mizoram Football Association while the 2013 Award for the long-time contribution to Indian football was awarded to Tata Football Academy.

The recipients of the Awards stay as follows:

Award for Best Grassroots Development Programme: Mizoram Football Association.

Award for long-time contribution to Indian Football: Tata Football Academy

2013 AIFF Award for the Best Assistant Referee: Biplab Poddar.

2013 AIFF Award for the Best Referee: Pratap Singh

2013 AIFF Award for Emerging Player of the Year: Jeje Lalpekhlua

2013 AIFF Award Best Woman Player of the Year: Oinam Bembem Devi

2013 AIFF Award for Player of the Year: Sunil Chhetri

(Posted on 14-02-2014)

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