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Star midfielder Hardik wins HI Player of the year award, Salima bags honour in women's category

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New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI) Star Indian midfielders Hardik Singh and Salima Tete were on Sunday conferred with the Player of the Year awards in men and women categories respectively during the sixth Hockey India Annual Awards here.

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Both the awards, in the name of legendary Balbir Singh Sr, carries a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh each.

India vice-captain Hardik also bagged Ajit Pal Singh Award for Midfielder of the Year, which carries a prize purse of Rs 5 lakh.

India captain Harmanpreet Singh won the Pargat Singh Award for Defender of the Year and took home Rs 5 lakh, while veteran custodian PR Sreejesh was honoured with the Baljit Singh Award for Goalkeeper of the Year.

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Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year went to young striker Abhishek.

Asunta Lakra Award for Upcoming Player of the Year (Women, Under-21) was bagged by Deepika Soreng, while the recognition in the men's division, which is in the name of former India drag-flicker Jugraj Singh, went to Araijeet Singh Hundal. Both the awards carry a prize money of Rs 10 lakh each.

The final award of the day, the prestigious Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award, which carries a prize money of Rs 30 lakh, was won by his son, Ashok Kumar.

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This year, the total prize pool was Rs 7.56 crore.

"I guess the responsibility increases when you win any individual award but this is our profession," Hardik told PTI.

"We live hockey for 300 days in a year and it is because of achieving these feats when some individual player gets such accolades, he or she should know that the entire team is trusting him or her.

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"As an individual I am very happy that I am doing well but our main focus is on the team because hockey is a team game." Salima said the recognition will inspire her to earn more laurels for the country.

"It is a matter of great pride for me every time I get to wear the Indian jersey and step out on the field to represent the nation. This award will further motivate me to continue to do even better each day so I can continue to make the country proud," she said.

The glittering ceremony started with the Milestone Awards 2023 with Vivek Sagar Prasad, Hardik, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Udita, Salima, and Gurjant Singh winning a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh and a trophy each for completing 100 international caps.

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Nikki Pradhan, Amit Rohidas, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, and Neha were also presented with Rs 1.5 lakh and a trophy each for completing 150 international caps.

Harmanpreet was also awarded Rs 2 lakh and a trophy for completing 200 international caps, while Indian women's hockey team goalkeeper Savita was presented with Rs 2.5 lakh along with a trophy for earning 250th caps. Sreejesh was presented with Rs 3 lakh along with a trophy for earning his 300th international cap.

Last year, striker Vandana Katariya became the first Indian women's hockey team player to earn her 300th international cap and she was awarded Rs 3 lakh along with a trophy for achieving the feat.

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The final milestone award of Rs 3.5 lakh and a trophy was presented to Manpreet Singh for representing India in 350 matches.

In the second category of individual achievement awards, Deepika, Mohith H S, Annu, Anjali Barwa, Maninder Singh, Deepika Soreng, Mandeep Singh, Salima, Sangita Kumari and Harmanpreet Singh were awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh and a trophy for their spectacular individual performances in various tournaments.

Savita, who was awarded FIH Goalkeeper of the Year in December, was presented with a prize money of Rs 5 Lakhs, while Hardik, who was awarded FIH Player of the Year, was presented a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh.

The gold medal-winning Indian junior men and women teams of Junior Asia Cup 2023 were also honoured, with each player earning a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh each and all the members of the support staff taking home Rs 1 lakh each.

HI also felicitated the gold medal winning Indian teams of Hockey 5s Asia Cup -- men and women -- with each player earning a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh each, while the members of the support staff were given Rs 1 lakh each.

The gold medal-winning Indian men's team of Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023, and the gold medal-winning women's side of Asian Champions Trophy Ranchi 2023 were also felicitated with Rs 3 lakh each for every player and Rs 1.5 lakh each for the support staff.

The Indian men's team was also honoured for its gold medal-winning performance at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, China, with a cash prize of Rs 5 Lakh for each player and Rs 2.5 lakh each for the support staff. The Indian women's team that won the bronze in the tournament were also awarded Rs 3 lakh for each player and Rs 1.5 lakh for each member of the support.

The players of the silver-medal winning Indian women's team of FIH Hockey 5s World Cup 2024 in Muscat, Oman were presented with Rs 3 lakh each player while the support staff earned Rs 1.5 lakh each.

The gold medal-winning Indian junior men's team of 2016 Junior World Cup was also felicitated with each player getting 5 lakh. PTI SSC SSC ATK ATK

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