FPAI Awards: A Night To Remember!

A detailed report of the starry evening.
Who says there is no glamour in Indian Football? What we witnessed  was too good to be believed. Starting from the awards to the players to the performances, everything was just amazing.  

It all started few days back when Bhaichung Bhuita heading a press conference notified that India will be having its first Football Awards Night. No one could have anticipated that he was referring to the night which was a lifetime experience for all those who attended.  

The awards night was hosted a posh 5 star hotel in Kolkata. It was for the first time in the history of Indian Football that the past and present came together to glamourize the event. The list of guest attending the event included all major Football Stars in the country.  Former stars like Mihir Bose, Biswajit Bhattacharya, Subhash Bhowmick were present along with the inspirational Indian Football legends like Badru Banerjee, P K Banerjee and Salien Manna.  

The event started with President of FPAI, Bhaichung Bhutia delivering the welcome address and sharing information about FPAI and its motive behind organizing this event. Speaking about this event Bhaichung said, “An award function for Football in India is very essential. It gives all the players an added motivation and also a reason to celebrate.”  

Sunil Chhetri and Steven Dias kicked off the event in style when the duo put on their dancing shoes to perform in the song 'Desi Girl.' 

As the evening progressed the Awards ceremony began. The first award was for the “Best Young Player of the Year” the nominees for this category were Baljit Sahni (JCT), Subhash Singh (East Bengal) and Rakesh Masih (Mohun Bagan). Former Footballer Biswajit Bhattacharya and Subhash Bhowmick gave away the award to Baljit Sahni, whose award was collected by Bhaichung as the player is recovering from a bike accident.

Done with the first set of awards the evening now progressed to more surprises. It was yet another amazing dance performance this time it was Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Subhashish Roy Choudhury. They were certainly the twist for the evening dancing to the number 'Pyaar mein Twist.'  

The next set of award was for the “Best Coach”. The nominees for this section were Karim Bencharifa (Mohun Bagan), David Booth (Mumbai FC/Mahindra United)and  Zoran Djodjevic (Churchill Brothers). The award was presented by India’s Sports medicine guru Dr. Vece Paes and Mr.Gautam Mohan Chakravarty (Police Commissioner, Kolkata). The award was won by David Booth, who came all the way from Mumbai to attend this starry affair thanked his players and FPAI for honoruing him with this award.

Thereafter the award for the “Best Player of the Year” (Fans Choice) was announced. The nominees were Jose Ramirez Barreto (Mohun Bagan), Rakesh Masih (Mohun Bagan), Odafa Okolie (Churchill Brothers), Sunil Chhetri (Dempo SC) and Anthony Pareira (Dempo SC). The award went to Sunil Chhetri who received it from Former Footballer Cheema Okorie. 

To celebrate his award on public demand, Sunil stepped onto the Dancing floor once again with choreographer Sonia J. Sunil seemed to be the Shahrukh Khan of the evening dancing on the Number 'Khudaya Khair.'

This amazing performance was followed by the award for the “Best Foreign Player” which was won by Odafa Okolie. The goalscoring machine thanked the Almighty God for this honour. He went on to receive the award from Indian Football great and former Olympians P K Banerjee and Badru Banerjee, defeating the likes of Jose Ramirez Barreto and Ejjiah Junior.

Daniel from Holland had come down to perform at this event. Daniel is a freestyler who finished fifth in the World Freestyling championship. Daniel’s performance was a real treat for the audience and he even got the Indian Footballers cheering for them.  

The evening reached its penultimate stage when the award for “Best Footballer of the Year” was announced. It was a unanimous decision to honour the rising star of the Beautiful game in India. Sunil Chhetri won, defeating the competition from Anthony Pareria, Rakesh Masih and NS Manju. The event came to a close with an exceptional performance by Mehrajuddin, Subhashish Roy Choudhury, Steven Dias, Sunil Chhetri and Sonia J on the Tamil Folk song “Apudi Phode”.

It was an evening to remember and we hope that we have more such events to motivate the Indian Football players in the near future.

Rahul Sengupta