The coaches always play a crucial role in shaping an athlete's career as well as the whole team. Such mentorship is rewarded in India by honouring the coach with the Droncacharya award. This is the highest award presented to a coach of any national sport in India.
Birth of Dronacharya Award
The first-ever Dronacharya Award was presented in 1985. However, the award was inspired by Dronacharya, an epic hero from the myths of Mahabharata. He was a military training instructor who trained both Kauravas and Pandavas. For that reason, he was called Guru Drona. In addition, he had a great knowledge of using divine weapons which made him an ideal figure for the highest coaching achievement.
Selection process and Nominations
Though we have briefly touched on this topic earlier, we will delve into it in greater deal here.
The Sports Authority of India and the National Anti Doping Agency must first clear the names of all the nominees. Any athlete who has tested positive for controlled substances is automatically disqualified from the selection process. The preliminary selection committee includes officials from the Sports Ministry, the SAI and the NADA.
In the next stage, all valid names are examined by another committee which has government officials, sports administrators, experts, and previous winners of the Khel Ratna. Every nominee receives marks on the basis of the profile of the competition in which they have won an award. For example, an athlete who has won an Olympic Gold gets 80 points. An Olympic Silver Medalist would get 70 marks, and so on.
In the final stage, the Sports Minister approves the names of athletes selected by the committee.
Over the years, several world champions have received the Major Hyan Chand Khel Award.
How coaches are selected
There is a distinct procedure that is entirely based on two things:
- Contribution of the coach
- His/her coaching's impact on the team or individual athlete's success.
Every year, the Sports Authority of India asks sports federations and boards to nominate coaches. However, only two coaches can be nominated from a single sport.
Upon clearance from the anti-doping agency, names are put forward to the Sports Ministry of India for final approval. There is a point-based ranking system for the unbiased evaluation of performance.
Rules and Requirements
All coaches must complete their registration before the 30th of April in the given year. They should be clear on the ethical rules adopted by the sports federations. Also, the sport must be recognized by the Sports Authority of India. In addition:
- For the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, 80 points are awarded to the coach of the gold medalist, and 70 and 55 points, respectively, to the trainers of the silver and bronze medalists.
- For championships and world cups, 40 points are awarded to the winning team coach, and 30 and 20 points to the second and third-placed team coaches.
- For the Asian Games, the gold winner coaches get 30 points, with 25 and 20 points, respectively to silver and bronze winner coaches.
- For the Commonwealth games, 25, 20, and 15 points are awarded to the gold, silver, and bronze medal-winning coaches, respectively.
- The performance evaluation is based on achievements over the previous four years.
The winner receives a prize of 25,00,000 rupees and a statue of guru Drona.
The First Dronacharya Award ceremony
The first Dronacharya Award was presented in 1985. The ceremony was hosted by the Government of India and the President honoured three coaches for their outstanding achievements in the sports world.
The First Winners of the Dronacharya Awards
This award can be awarded to more than one coach. In some years, as many as 6 coaches have been honoured with Dronacharya Awards. However, in the first year, three outstanding coaches were rewarded. These first winners had not only made an impact on the professional sports world but they had also inspired many young children all around India. The three coaches were:
Bhalchandra Bhaskar Bhagwat - Wrestling
Om Prakash Bhardwaj - Boxing
O. M. Nambiar - Athletics
Desh Prem Azad-Cricket
Raghunandan Vasant Gokhle-Chess
A. Ramana Rao-Volleyball
Shyam Sunder Rao-Volleyball
Wilson Jones-Billiards & Snooker
Pal Singh Sandhu-Weightlifting
Joginder Singh Saini-Athletics
G. S. Sandhu-Boxing
Bahadur Singh Chouhan-Athletics
Hargobind Singh Sandhu-Athletics
Kenneth Owen Bosen -Athletics
Ajay Kumar Sirohi-Weightlifting
S. M. Arif-Badminton
Gudial Singh Bhangu-Hockey
Gopal Purushottam Phadke-Kho kho
Michael Ferreira-Billiards & Snooker
Maharaj Krishan Kaushik-Hockey
E. Prasad Rao-Kabaddi
Sukhchain Singh Cheema-Wrestling
Robert Bobby George-Athletics
Rajinder Singh Jr.-Hockey
Arvind Savur-Billiards & Snooker
Maha Singh Rao-Wrestling
R. D. Singh-Athletics
Sanjeeva Kumar Singh-Archery
G. E. Sridharan-Volleyball
S. Baldev Singh-Hockey
Subhash Agarwal-Billiards & Snooker
Ajay Kumar Bansal-Hockey
L Ibomcha Singh-Boxing
A. K. Kutty-Athletics
Devender Kumar Rathore-Gymnastics
Inukurthi Venkateshwara Roy-Boxing
B. I. Fernandez-Boxing
Narender Singh Saini-Hockey
Anoop Singh Dahiya-Wrestling
Sagar Mal Dhayal-Boxing
Heera Nand Kataria-Kabaddi
Subedar Chenanda Achaiah Kuttappa-Boxing
A. Srinivasa Rao-Table Tennis
Sukhdev Singh Pannu-Athletics
U. Vimal Kumar-Badminton
Mohinder Singh Dhillon-Athletics
Sandip Gupta-Table Tennis
Kuldeep Kumar Handoo-Wushu
Coaches are people who help create winners out of talented athletes. Usually, they get lost in the background unless they are coaches of league teams. The Dronacharya Award celebrates these unsung heroes.