Das, Bharati win Player of the Year awards

Gajaraj presented lifetime achievement award; Chaugain best youth; Dias is coach of the year

Kathmandu, July 31 :

Cricket stole the show at the LG Player of the Year (PoY) Award-2006 ceremony organised by the Nepal Sports journalists’ Forum (NSJF) amidst a ceremony at Soaltee Crowne Plaza here today.

National cricket captain Binod Das was declared the male PoY and another cricketer Kanishka Chaugain won the Youth PoY while Sri Lankan cricket coach Roy Luke Dias was adjudged the best coach of the year. Athlete Nirmala Bharati won the LG Female Player of the Year award while one of the four Nepali players to participate in the first international competition Gajaraj Joshi was presented with the lifetime achievement award.

The NSJF selection committee had nominated five nominees in the four categories — male PoY, female PoY, Youth PoY and coach of the year.

Das was considered the best for his leadership in guiding Nepal into the final of the ACC Fast Track Countries three-day Tournament. He led Nepal to a memorable win over the United Arab Emirates, the ultimate winners. Das claimed a total of 21 wickets conceding 182 runs in 102 overs during the Fast Track tournament while he became the best ever Nepali bowler in the tournament when he took 6-29 against Hong Kong. Other nominees in the category were Kanishka Chaugain (cricket), Paresh Lohani (cricket), Devi Bahadur Basnet (athletics) and Pradeep Maharjan (football). Athlete Rajendra Bhandari won the award last year.

Mahendra Police Club athlete Bharati had a wonderful year, as she became the first player to set seven national records in a year. Bharati, 29, shattered the record thrice in half marathon, twice in 10,000m as well as in 5,000m and 3,000m. Bharati was also declared the best athlete of 2005 by Nepal Athletics Association. Bharati’s best run came in the Berlin half marathon when she finished overall sixth with the timing of 1:18.46. Other nominees in the category were shuttler duo Puja Shrestha and Sumina Shrestha, Lila Adhikari (Judo), Keshari Chaudhary (athletics) and Chandrakala Thapa (athletics). Puja and Sumina were the joint winners last year.

The success of Nepali cricket truly began after former Sri Lankan Test international Dias took the helm some six years ago. The success story continued last year as well when Nepal won the U-15 Asia Cup in the UAE. Under his guidance Nepal also won the ACC U-19 Cup at home and qualified for the U-19 World Cup for the fourth consecutive year. In Sri Lanka, Nepal made history by not only winning the Plate Championship but also beating Test-playing nations South Africa in semi-final and New Zealand in the final.

Dias’ contribution does not end here. He also led the national team to yet another historical win over the UAE in the ACC Fast Track tournament where Nepal finished runners up. Other nominees in the category were Shyam Thapa (football), Raju Shakya (football), Sushil Narsingh Rana (athletics) and Kiran Thapa (badminton).

Chaugain was at the centre when Nepal won the ACC U-19 Cup for the fourth consecutive time. Chaugain scored 126 in the tournament with an average of 31.2. He led Nepal to a historical Plate Championship win in the U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, scoring 234 runs at an average of 39.

Chaugain is the only Nepali cricketer to cross the 1,000-run milestone in the Under-19 level. Other nominees in the category were Chetan Ghimire (football), Ranjeet Shrestha (football), Gyanendra Malla (cricket) and Keshari Chaudhary (athletics). Footballer Pradeep Maharjan was the winner last year.

Marathoner Joshi, 83, who hails from Tokha, Kathmandu was one of the four Nepali runners to take part in the first Asian Games in 1951 in New Delhi. Joshi is still active in promoting athlete and has formed a fund to help organise school-level athletics tournament in Tokha.

The winners received Rs 10,000 each along with gift hampers from LG, Water Shop, attsh and Buddha Air. NSJF president Niranjan Rajbanshi and general secretary Hemanta Kafle thanked the unity of the forum for making the programme a grand success. Rajbanshi also thanked the sponsors for extending their supportive hands to make the event a grand success.