India hockey team forward Mandeep Singh, who has been nominated for the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year 2019 (Male) and Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year 2019, believes individual success is not as important as the team's achievements.
"I am happy to be nominated for the awards and I am nominated only because of my team's hard work and success last year. These awards are a big motivation for players as the team gets an opportunity to work harder," said Mandeep.
"However, individual successes are not as important as the team's achievements. Last year was very special for us. We qualified for the 2020 Olympics at home and my personal performance was good too," he added.
Mandeep, who had a stellar 2019, scored 20 goals during the course of the year and played a crucial role in India's victories at the FIH Series Finals and Olympic Qualifiers last year. He netted eight goals at the 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, two goals at the FIH Series Finals, six goals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Test Event, two goals during the Belgium tour and two goals at the Olympic Qualifiers.
Mandeep said that when he saw his teammates win awards at the Hockey India 2nd Annual Awards in 2016, it inspired him to work harder. "When I saw my teammates win Hockey India Awards in 2016, I was very inspired to work hard for my team. I am sure it's a very special moment to receive awards in front of the whole hockey fraternity."
The Indian team has performed brilliantly at the FIH Pro League so far. They have played toe-to-toe against the top three teams - Belgium, Australia and Netherlands in the tournament. Mandeep said that the competition serves as good preparation for the all-important Tokyo Olympics.
"We have started the FIH Hockey Pro League very well. We played good matches against Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. The team is carrying out practice sessions day by day and all players are supporting each other during training and matches," he said.
"We have never let pressure affect our performances. This competition serves as a good platform to test ourselves against top teams in the world ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," he added.