OSJA Awards recipients with guests and OSJA office-bearers in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.
OSJA Awards recipients with guests and OSJA office-bearers in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Bhubaneswar: International woman athlete Purnima Hembram and former footballer Debendra Prasad Singh were conferred with the ‘OSJA Outstanding Sportsperson of the Year’ and ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ respectively at a function held in a hotel here on the occasion of foundation day of Odisha Sports Journalists’ Association (OSJA) on Wednesday.

Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Sports, Vishal Dev and renowned weightlifting coaches Pal Singh Sandhu and Hansa Sharma Manral handed over the awards, which included a cheque of Rs 25,000 each along with citation and memento. In the absence of Purnima, who is now in Australia, preparing for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, her father Dukhia Hembram received the award on her behalf.

Speaking on the occasion, Dev described sports as the India’s biggest uniting factor and the best medium to boost the prestige of the state and the country. He said staging of a series of international sports events in Bhubaneswar has built a positive image for the state inside and outside the country.

Dronacharya Awardee Sandhu lauded the Odisha government’s efforts towards development of sports and thanked the state for grooming a number of international weightlifters. Commenting on the role of sports scribes, he said they should also highlight the positive side, instead of negative happenings only.

Hansha Manral, the first woman Dronacharya Awardee, said proper scouting of talent, coaches’ education, scientific support and more funding are majorly required for development of sports in the country.

OSJA president K Ravi, working president Sandeep Mishra, vice-presidents Suresh Swain, Sambit Mohapatra; secretary Sanatan Pani, joint-secretaries Debi Prasanna Mohanty, Samikshya Pattnaik, treasurer Himanshu Pati Mishra and other members were present on the occasion.