The Fourth Indian Newslink Indian Sports Awards Presentation Ceremony, held on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at Alexandra Park in Auckland has been hailed as a ‘Yet another successful event of the newspaper’s brands.’
These Awards recognise and reward Sportspeople of Indian origin in New Zealand excelling in their chosen sport. There were 13 categories in this year’s Awards Programme, covering six different sports, in addition to the Supreme Awards.
Hockey player Shareena Nana, who won in her category was the ‘Best Sportswoman of the Year,’ while Ish Sodhi, the Black Caps Test Cricketer, won the ‘Best Sportsman of the Year’ Award.
The stars of the future were recognised with two Special Awards, one each for Excellence in Pursuing Sports and presented with the ‘Young Achiever of the Year (Male & Female 9-14 Years’ Award and the other for being the ‘Best Young Sportsman of the Year.’
An independent panel of judges chaired by Sergeant Steve Smith of Counties Manukau Police, evaluated the entries and announced the finalists and winners.
Outlining the positive impact that sports have in our lives, he said these Awards rewarded achievers for their hard work.
“This in turn encourages our sportsmen and sportswomen to excel in their chosen disciplines. The recognition helps to attract the attention of good coaches and selectors, thus aiding in their pursuit of becoming international players. Sports Awards also act as an encouragement for youth to take up sports,” he said.
Mr Prasad’s own involvement with Sports has been long and eventful.
The Fiji Football Association was formed in 1993 by a dedicated group of soccer players and loyal followers. The early days of the Association saw 16 to 18 teams play, generally over weekends in a Carnival like atmosphere.
Played across School grounds, it had food stalls and other entertainment avenues set up to generate funds for running the Teams.
The Association was responsible for organising all the major tournaments like IDC, BOG Fiji Fact, Champion vs Champion and many more.
Mr Prasad said that the weekend leagues provided a pathway to players to integrate into the local teams.
“Officials too gained experience though this sporting structure. They formed a League Team of their own. Thus was born ‘The Mangere United Soccer Club’ in 2001. Since then it has been playing First Division Soccer with great success. It has a home base at Mangere Centre Park. With the assistance of the Council, the Club has also built its own Stadium at an estimated cost of $1.7 million.
“The Stadium now occupies a pride of place at Centre Park in Mangere. Success in Sports Administration is essential for the concerned Sport to thrive. An interesting offshoot of the Association was the formation of the Veterans Soccer Association. It works closely with NZ Fiji Football Association,” Mr Prasad said.
He acknowledged the finalists and winners in the 13 categories of the Indian Newslink Indian Sports Awards. He also elucidated on the numerous benefit sports provides to individuals.
“The University of Missouri pointed out that Sports can help build leadership skills and give people an opportunity to surround themselves with competitive individuals and role models. It also said that sports help to achieve a healthy mind and body, learn the spirit of cooperation and teamwork, and promote an active lifestyle. Sports also help boost self-esteem,” Mr Prasad said.
He said that no other field of human activity provides such a wonderful platform for a peaceful and happy coexistence.
The Awards Night also saw a brilliant performance by the 50/50 Dance Group. The packed Tasman Room at Alexandra Park thoroughly enjoyed the energetic act performed by the group, whilst enjoying a delicious buffet dinner.
Satend Sharma, the master presenter of the ‘Drive Show’ on Radio Tarana on weekends, was among the most important architects of the success of the Awards Night. With punch humour and an inimitable presence of mind, he carried the evening through with guffaws and pleasantness.
As the curtain comes down on this year’s Awards, preparations have already begun for next one in 2016.
Indian Newslink will carry on its quest to make these Awards bigger and better for the sole purpose of recognising and rewarding talented and successful Sportspeople of Indian origin in New Zealand.