Ashok Kumar, a key member of India's 1975 World Cup-winning hockey team, will be conferred with the Lifetime Achievement Award by city football club Mohun Bagan on the occasion of its foundation day in a virtual ceremony in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We will record the presentation of the award and also their individual messages which would be shared on our social media platforms," Mohun Bagan general secretary Srinjoy Bose said in a statement.
Son of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, Kumar scored an important goal in the gold medal match for India against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Besides the 1975 gold, the 70-year-old Kumar had also won bronze (1971) and silver (1973) medals in World Cups, besides a bronze medal in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Kumar, who moved to Mohun Bagan in the late 1960s and also represented Bengal before getting selected in the Indian hockey team, also won three consecutive silver medals in the Asian Games (1970, 1974 and 1978).
Mohun Bagan Day is celebrated every year on July 29 to commemorate their IFA Shield triumph in 1911 when they had won the tournament defeating East Yorkshire Regiment 2-1, thus becoming the first Indian club to end the British stranglehold.
"But amid the current circumstances, this year the club executive committee has decided not to celebrate the Mohun Bagan Day by organising a physical programme," Bose said. "The awards would be presented personally to those who are available in Kolkata. The awardees who are unable to receive the honour due to their unavailability in the city would be presented at a later stage when things would be normal."
The club's footballing rights was recently acquired by the RP Sanjiv Goenka group which holds a majority stake of 80 per cent. The new entity is called ATK Mohun Bagan FC. "We have only sold the football rights. The company has owned the football rights only and it has got nothing to do with our club that is Mohun Bagan Athletic Club. So there's no question of any name change in our awards," Mohun Bagan's finance secretary Debasish Dutta told PTI.
This year's Mohun Bagan Ratna would be presented to Gurbux Singh and Palash Nandi, the club stated in the release.
Mohun Bagan Ratna: Gurbux Singh (Hockey) and Palash Nandi (Cricket); Lifetime Achievement: Ashok Kumar (Hockey), Pranab Ganguly (Football), Monoranjan Porel (Athletics); Best Footballer: Joseba Beitia (Senior); Best Youth Player: Sajal Bag (U18 team).