SPORTSMAN OF THE DECADE (TEAM SPORTS)

Sunil Chhetri
(Football)

Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri began the past decade by joining Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon’s reserve side in 2012 and was loaned out to Churchill Brothers the following year. After leading Churchill to the I-league title that season, he joined Bengaluru FC, where his career took off with a league-high 14 goals as he steered the club to the title in its debut season. Chhetri led BFC to a remarkable runner-up finish at the 2016 AFC Cup, another I-League title and two Federation Cup trophies in his first three years with it. During this period, he also spent two seasons with Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League.
Bengaluru FC joined the ISL in 2017 and enjoyed a memorable maiden campaign as Chhetri led it to a runner-up finish and a Super Cup triumph. Chhetri struck 14 goals in the ISL that season. He then successfully powered Bengaluru to the ISL crown the following season. Chhetri is the highest goal-scorer in the ISL with 42 goals from 82 matches.
Chhetri led the young Indian national team to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and to the Intercontinental Cup title in 2018. Named an ‘Asian Icon’ by the Asian Football Confederation, Chhetri is the national team’s most-capped player and the second-highest goal-scorer among active international footballers, second only to Cristiano Ronaldo. The 36-year-old was conferred the Padma Shri in 2019.

Sunil Chhetri
(Football)

Sardar Singh
(Hockey)

The 34-year old’s ‘achievement’ section on the Internet is as big as the entire career of many! He made his first appearance in 2006 in the Indo-Pak series, a baptism by fire. Labelled 'indisciplined' during his early years, 2010 was Sardar's breakout year, with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games at home. Made the FIH All-Stars twice, in 2010 and 2011, only the second Indian to do so.
One of the most-capped international hockey players (314), he was honoured with the Arjuna in 2012, Padma Shri in 2015 and Khel Ratna in 2018. He led the country for almost eight years after getting the chance for the first time in 2008 when he was just 22, one of the youngest to captain India. 
From 2010, Sardar has been part of every Indian success – Asian Games, CWG, Asia Cup, World League, Champions Trophy, Asian Champions Trophy – and has proved himself in every position – attack, midfield and defence.

Sardar Singh
(Hockey)

Manpreet Singh
(Hockey)

The past decade has coincided with a resurrection of Indian hockey, both on and off the field, and Manpreet Singh’s career has grown proportionately.
Starting with his international debut in 2011 at the age of 19, Manpreet has been an integral part of the national team’s growth in this period to being No. 4 in the world. Already an Olympian when he captained the team at the 2013 Junior World Cup, Manpreet was named Asia's Junior Player of the Year in 2014.
With 267 caps, participation at two Olympics and a host of national and international awards under his belt, the 28-year-old captain has symbolised the new, confident Indian hockey. In 2018, he led India to a 6th-place finish at the World Cup, its best finish since 1994. In 2019, Manpreet led the team to victory in the FIH Series Finals and the Olympic Qualifiers, reached the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final and won the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo. He also became the first Indian ever to win the FIH Best Player award in 2019, an honour that eluded even the likes of Sardar Singh. The year also saw him named as the Sportstar Player of the Year and the Hockey India Player of the Year.
With a medal at almost all major competitions — Asian Games (gold 2014, bronze 2018), Asia Cup (gold 2017, silver 2013), Champions Trophy (silver 2016 and 2018) and Commonwealth Games (silver 2014) — the midfielder has proven himself a worthy successor to Sardar.

Manpreet Singh
(Hockey)

SPORTSWOMAN OF THE DECADE (TEAM SPORTS)

Savita Punia
(Hockey)

With more than 200 caps, the 30-year-old goalkeeper is the second senior-most member after Rani Rampal in the Indian women’s hockey team in terms of experience.
She has been involved in almost every major success that the team enjoyed in the last decade – denying Japan in the Olympic qualifier and helping help India qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, bronze at the 2014 Asian Games and silver in 2018, bronze in the 2013 Asia Cup and gold in 2017 which took the team to the 2018 World Cup. Incidentally, Savita was chosen the Best Goalkeeper of the 2017 Asia Cup. 
Savita won the Arjuna Award in 2018 – only the third woman goalkeeper to be conferred the distinction, and the first in 14 years – and was included in Forbes India’s 30-under-30 list the same year. 

Savita Punia
(Hockey)

Rani Rampal
(Hockey)

She's just 26, but Rani has achieved more than most. She was only 15 when she took the field at the 2010 World Cup and has been part of every Indian team since, winning a record 241 caps so far. In her maiden tournament, she went on to bag the Best Young Player award and emerged its top scorer. Rani was also named in the FIH All-Stars team for 2010.
She was the Player of the tournament at the Junior World Cup in 2013, leading India to its maiden medal in the competition (bronze). Rani scored the lone goal in the Olympic Qualifier 2015 and the crucial winner for India against the USA in the Olympic Qualifier in 2019. She was also chosen as the World Games Athlete of the Year in 2019.
Rani was awarded the Arjuna in 2016 and Padma Shri in 2020, and became the first woman hockey player – and only the third from the sport – to get the Khel Ratna later that year.

Rani Rampal
(Hockey)

Ngangom Bala Devi
(Football)

Bala Devi made history in 2020 by becoming the first Indian women’s footballer to sign a professional contract with a foreign club when she joined Scottish Women’s Premier League side Rangers on an 18-month contract.
She is currently the all-time leading scorer in the Indian Women's League. She bagged 12 goals in the 2017-18 season in KRYPHSA’s semifinal run, before netting a stunning 26 goals to steer Manipur Police to a runner-up finish the following year.
A former captain of the national team, Bala Devi is the current top-scorer for the Indian eves – scoring 52 times in 58 games since 2010. She is also the top international goal-scorer in the South Asian region.
She has tasted plenty of success in national colours, winning the SAFF Women’s Championship thrice (2010, 2014, 2016) and clinching gold at the South Asian Games thrice (2010, 2016, 2019). Bala has also been named the All India Football Federation Women’s Player of the Year twice, in 2015 and 2016.

Ngangom Bala Devi
(Football)