Mohun Bagan and Chennaiyin FC striker Jeje Lalpekhlua has been nominated as the ’2016 All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year,” it was announced on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old from Mizoram will be presented a prize of Rs. 2.5 lakh along with the glittering trophy, AIFF president Praful Patel declared at the AIFF Annual General Body Meeting.
“It’s the award which every Indian Footballer looks forward to. It feels great and I am thankful to all my coaches who put their faith on me,” Jeje said in an AIFF release. “I am also immensely grateful to AIFF because it was there the journey began from. The Academy in Goa under Colm Toal laid the platform for me and so many others to dream about bigger things,” he added.
“Awards motivate you and it feels great when your hard work gets recognised. I am extremely thrilled about joining the elite list. If you look at the ones who have received the AIFF Player of the Year Award in all the previous years, I found out they all are my idols.”
He also thanked his team-mates for helping him go through a successful season. “I have been very fortunate to have an amazing bunch of players around me, right from Mohun Bagan to Chennaiyin FC to the national team. “It’s like a cohesive unit who gel well quintessentially. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all my team-mates. Unless they had been so supportive towards me, this award could not have seen the daylight.”
Meanwhile, Sasmita Malik was conferred the 2016 AIFF Woman Footballer of the Year award. The Odisha-based footballer will get Rs. 2 lakh in cash besides a trophy. AIFF also awarded ’2016 AIFF Award for Special Recognition’ to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Uvena Fernandes. They will be bestowed with Rs. 1 lakh and a trophy apiece.
Gurpreet represented Stabaek FC in the Europa League, the first Indian to feature in an Europa League fixture, whereas Uvena Fernandes is the first Indian to officiate in a World Cup final match. She officiated the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2016 final in Jordan. Rowllin Borges was declared the ’2016 AIFF Emerging Player of the Year’.
Sanju, an integral part of the team who won the South Asian Games 2016, will be honoured with the ’2016 AIFF Emerging Woman Footballer of the Year’ award.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Football Association snapped up the ’2016 AIFF Award for Best Grassroots Programme’. Pranjal Banerjee from IFA won ’2016 AIFF Award for Best Referee’ while Joseph Tony was awarded the ’2016 AIFF Award for Best Assistant Referee’.