While hockey has been given a miss for the Dronacharya award for the second year in running, the Arjuna awards may give the national sport another shot at claiming sporting honours.
While Viren Rasquinha and Ignace Tirkey are busy getting in shape for the upcoming World Cup next month, they would also be in running for another spot on a different field -- the Arjuna Award. And, unlike on the turf, here only one would be winner.
This being the time of the year when, for once, sporting recognition comes to the fore in the country, when the Arjuna and Dhyanchand Awards selection committee meets in the capital on Thursday, one would hope that hockey is not overlooked. And going by the profile of the players, those in the know would say that it is high time these men and women were rewarded for consistent performances over the years.
While Ignace - from the tribal belt of Sundargarh and with both his siblings playing hockey -- is considered perhaps the most talented man in halfline amongst the current lot, Mumbai lad Viren has proved repeatedly that hardwork has no substitute at the top level. Having made their international debut at around the same time, both have often played pivotal role in India's performances. Besides playing together since their junior days, Ignace and Viren have both led the team and command respect of their team and coaches.
However, though the duo may be front-runners for the award, Prabhjot Singh has also been nominated. And though the Punjab striker may not be a favourite, he would have been a better bet than both, if he had not lost form and been out of the national squad for some time.
For the Dhyanchand award for lifetime achievement, former centre-half Olympian and World Cupper Selvaraj Thirumalvalavan has been recommended.
Meanwhile, in the women's section, Sumrai Tete - who led the team at the Commonwealth games in Melbourne - has been nominated.
Sumrai is expected to retire after the Asian Games and has been an important link in the national team for almost a decade now. An award this time around would perhaps be befitting for raising India's profile in women's hockey.