Sportstar Aces Awards 2021: Infrastructure, international success the vision for the coming decade

Ahead of the annual Aces Awards ceremony, Sportstar and its partners share the vision of working towards making India a sporting nation to be reckoned with.

The 2021 Sportstar Aces Awards are brought to you by MRF, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Odisha Sport, Union Bank of India, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Baashyaam and SSVM Institutions.

The 2021 Sportstar ACES Awards will celebrate the top performers of Indian sports in the decade 2011 and 2020. The past 10 years have witnessed some glorious chapters in Indian sport which started with the men’s cricket team winning the 2011 ICC World Cup in India. There has been success in other fields, too, including the medal-winning feats of Gagan Narang, M. C, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu and Sakshi Malik at the Olympics.

The annual awards, which honour athletes and organisations for their achievements in sports and their contributions towards their betterment in the country, are being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, spread across five episodes on March 28 and April 1-4. In addition to 11 popular choice and 14 jury awards, special awards will be presented under the categories Giants off the Field and Sports for Social Good, recognising the work of organisations and individuals who have used sports for the betterment of society.

Sportstar and its partners share the vision of working towards making India a sporting nation to be reckoned with.


For the MRF group, long associated with sports promotion in the country, sports in India should evolve from being a mere avenue for entertainment to being one of the more important indicators of development in the country. “With the current government’s focus on sports through the various initiatives like Khelo India, Fit India, et cetera, we are definitely heading in the right direction. It is also equally necessary to continue to focus on the grassroots level as that is where the hidden gems lie. Cricket and a lot of other sports are a testament to this, with the likes of M. S. Dhoni, Hima Das and others coming from the small towns,” MRF believes.

MRF sees sports as a profession on par with any conventional one, and for this to happen, one needs to have the necessary infrastructure.

“We would need to benchmark ourselves with Australia wherein practically at every corner there is some sort of sport-related infrastructure. It will not only serve as a catalyst for the development of sports, but also create huge employment opportunities,” the group says.

READ: Odisha wins Sportstar Aces 2021 Best State for Promotion of Sports

Outdoor sports teach key virtues such as resilience, leadership, accountability, respect and patience, says Dr Manimekalai Mohan, founder and managing trustee of SSVM Institutions. “Whether in school or in leisure time,” she says, “playing a team sport like football teaches valuable lessons to young children, like discipline and tenacity not just on the field but off it, too. I strongly feel that as a sport, football brings about an understanding in every player of the crucial part they equally play in the success of the game. Teamwork, coordination, trust, collaboration and motivation are the tenets of football that translate into an effective win and create responsible, well-rounded and agile children.”

“Students with sports talent must be given scholarships. Underdeveloped Indian sports should be given more importance. India should also focus on the games played worldwide. More and more national and international sports events should be hosted in India to encourage and inspire Indian youth towards sports,” Dr Mohan added.

For Odisha, sports is a priority, and the state is led by the vision of its chief minister Naveen Patnaik. “All our initiatives are structured around this, namely, developing world-class infrastructure, sponsoring national teams, creating a bouquet of high-performance centres, strengthening grassroots programmes and hosting major sports events, and thereby building a legacy in sports that will be aspirational and inspire athletes to strive to achieve their sporting excellence and bring laurels for the state and country,” said Tusharkanti Behera, the minister for sports and youth services for Odisha, which was adjudged as the decade’s Best State for Promotion of Sports.

“Our vision is to see India rise to be a powerhouse in sports, develop world-class infrastructure that nurtures the cream of athletes and by 2028 create champions and make India amongst the top 10 countries, besides creating a sporting culture in the nation that will pave the way for a healthy and fit lifestyle,” he added.

READ: Sportstar Aces Awards 2021 - Register to join the virtual ceremony

The spirit of sports is a motivation to achieve, conquer and set new benchmarks, says Yogendra Singh, Union Bank of India’s general manager for corporate communications, while underlining Sportstar’s contribution. “Sportstar is a magazine that is not only dedicated to sports, but also motivates the youth of the country to a large extent. Union Bank of India appreciates Sportstar in its endeavour to encourage sports with the ACES awards.”

The awards were launched in 1994 with the vision of celebrating the stars, the future stars and the tireless partners who have dedicated their lives to sports, to realise the dream of making India a sporting nation. The Sportstar ACES Awards aim to identify and reward the most deserving athletes irrespective of the popularity of the sport.

As Behera says, “Sport is a symbol of youth power, dynamism, team spirit and above all and irrepressible desire for winning. It teaches resilience, leadership and accountability. It instills integrity, a can-do attitude, trust and patience.”

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