Upcoming Indian hockey midfielder, Vivek Sagar Prasad, has been named as the 2019 FIH Rising Star of the Year, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced on Monday.
The 19-year-old was declared winner following an elaborate online poll that had the national associations (50%), the press (25%) and fans (25%) voting to decide the awardee. The FIH had nominated Argentina’s Maico Casella and Blake Govers of Australia along with Prasad for the 2019 honour.
Award motivates Vivek Sagar Prasad
Speaking about the award, the Indian hockey midfielder said: “This is a big moment for me and I thank everyone who voted for me to win this award. This comes as a big motivation to strive harder for the Indian hockey team and give my best as we aim to achieve higher goals for the country.”
“I would also like to thank my teammates especially the seniors who ensured they constantly motivated me enough if I made any mistakes, they encouraged me to give my best,” he added.
Vivek Sagar Prasad made his international debut in 2018 at a Four-Nation Invitational competition in New Zealand that saw the Indian hockey team play world champions Belgium and Japan apart from the hosts. Since then, the Indian hockey midfielder has made over 60 appearances for the national team.
Later in 2018, the youngster was seen leading the Indian hockey team at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, an event where they ended up the silver medal following a 1-3 loss in the final.
However, it was in 2019 that the player from Madhya Pradesh made an impact with his smart stick work in India colours. The 19-year-old was a presence in the Indian hockey side at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, often finding the attackers with his defence-splitting passes.
Even though the Indian hockey team had to endure a loss to South Korea in the final, Vivek Sagar Prasad scored two goals to keep himself in the reckoning for a place in the Indian set-up as the season progressed.
Later, at the FIH Series Finals the Indian midfielder ensured that he brought his best to the fore as the Indian hockey team dished out a fine show to clinch the title with resounding wins. Vivek Sagar Prasad, meanwhile, was named the Best Young Player of the tournament.
With the 2020 Olympics fast approaching, the Indian midfielder will be keen to make an impact in the ongoing FIH Pro League to ensure he makes the Olympic-bound squad in July. And if his performance against the Belgians is anything to go by, head coach Graham Reid will have surely made a note of his contributions on the pitch.