In India, the Dronacharya Award is given to coaches as recognition for their contribution to a particular sport or for their role in an athlete’s rise to the top.
It is also given to motivate coaches to dedicate themselves to raising the performance of their athletes to international standards.
It is handed out on National Sports Day – celebrated on August 29, the legendary Dhyan Chand’s birthday – every year, along with the Arjuna Award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, and the Dhyan Chand Award, collectively called the National Sports Day awards.
The Dronacharya award is named after the mythical character Drona – who taught the art of warfare to the Kauravas and Pandavas – the protagonists of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
It is officially called the Dronacharya Award for Outstanding Coaches in Sports and Games, for coaches who help athletes achieve excellence over a period of four years.
The awardees are decided by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS). The MYAS select from the coaches nominated by the National Sports Federations, the Indian Olympic Association, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and state governments.
The awardees are given a bronze statue of ‘guru’ Drona, a certificate, and a cash prize of Rs 10 lakhs. The prize was earlier Rs 5 lakhs but doubled in 2020.
A maximum of five Dronacharya Awards, including two for lifetime contribution, are given in a year.
The Dronacharya Award was first handed out in 1985, and the first Dronacharya Award winner was wrestling coach Bhalchandra Bhaskar Bhagwat.
Along with Bhagwat, renowned athletics coach OM Nambiar – known for his role in shaping PT Usha’s career – and boxing coach Om Prakash Bharadwaj were also among the first recipients that year.
The first woman to win the Dronacharya Award was athletics coach Renu Kohli in 2002.
In 2020, the Dronacharya Award was given to former hockey captain and coach Jude Felix, pistol shooting coach Jaspal Rana, para-badminton coach Gaurav Khanna, Wushu coach Kuldeep Handoo and Mallakhamb coach Yogesh Malviya.
By: Forum Rawriya