NEW DELHI: Indian men's hockey team captain Manpreet Singh on Monday dedicated his FIH Player of the Year 2019 award to his late father, saying the recognition brings with it a huge responsibility.
Last Thursday, Manpreet became the first Indian to win the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) Player of the Year award, capping a memorable 2019 season in which he led the side to Olympic qualification. The 27-year-old midfielder, thus, became the first from the country to win the accolade since the awards were introduced in 1999.
He beat competition from Belgium's Arthur van Dorren and Lucas Villa of Argentina, who came second and third respectively. Manpreet polled a total of 35.2 per cent of combined votes, which includes National Associations, media, fans and players.
"I would like to thank my family and friends for always supporting me. They have been motivating me throughout my career. And of course, I cannot forget my father, if he was still here, he would've been really proud of me. This award is for all the support and strength that he always gave me," he said.
Manpreet said the award will act as a confidence booster for him ahead of the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League matches and the Tokyo Olympics. "It's a really proud moment for me to have won the FIH Player of the Year 2019 award. It gives me huge confidence for all the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League matches, as well as for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It also feels amazing to have become the first Indian ever to win this prize, but with this recognition, there also comes a big responsibility to keep helping my team to do well," he said.
Besides Manpreet, young midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad won the FIH Male Rising Star of the Year award, while striker Lalremsiami bagged the the 2019 FIH Women's Rising Star of Year recognition. Manpreet said the awards won by Vivek and Lalremsiami is a reflection of the improvements made by men's and women's teams.
"It is also a very positive thing for both our teams with Vivek and Lalremsiami also having won their respective FIH Rising Star of the Year Awards. It reflects well on how our teams are improving, and gives us the confidence in doing well in future events and tournaments," he said.