Winners of the Grameenphone-Prothom Alo Sports Awards pose for a photograph with Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman and the jury at a local hotel yesterday.Photo: STAR
It came as a spell of rain falling in the desert when Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful was declared the Sportsperson of the Year during Grameenphone-Prothom Alo sports awards ceremony yesterday.
One may be surprised about the winner's name considering the fact that the right-handed premier batsman has been going through tough times this year as well as being under immense pressure for a long lean patch.
But the country's leading batsman got the award for his last year's achievement as the country's leading cellular phone operator and the leading daily awarded the top sportspersons of the year 2007 at a local hotel.
The function at least reminded everybody that it was not long ago the Tigers skipper had provided something special to cheer about as his blitzkrieg knocks gave Bangladesh their maiden one-day victory against South Africa during the World Cup in the West Indies and international success against West Indies during the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. His brilliant Test hundred against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Stadium also marked the year.
"It is a very important award and I am honoured. It will encourage me to do better performance," said Ashraful in his instant reaction.
Like the previous years the event brought the whole sporting arena under one roof where past and current sports icons gathered in the cordial ceremony, hosted skillfully in the characteristic style of Prothom Alo's Sports Editor Utpal Shuvra where he first declared the winner of the Lifetime Achievement award.
The award went to Abul Hasan, not so common a name to this generation, who represented Pakistan national volleyball team as well as playing football and being involved in other sports like athletics.... a multi-skill sportsman.
"At the fag end of my life someone honoured me for my contribution to sports. I am really happy and I must thank Grameenphone and Prothom Alo to arrange this kind of event," said an emotion-choked Abul.
Former cricket captain Minhajul Abedin announced the name of the Emerging Sportsman award and it was none other than Tamim Iqbal who hogged the spotlight in the last World Cup in the Caribbean because of the left-hander's swashbuckling match winning half-century against India.
In absence of Tamim, his elder brother Nafis Iqbal received the award from ex-national cricket captain Aminul Islam.
Track queen Shamsunahar Beauty clinched the leading Female Sportsperson award but for the second successive year, no footballer was considered in any category.
Two runners-up awards went to Ziaur Rahman (Kabaddi) and Enamul Hossain Rajib (chess).
Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman and Grameenphone CEO Anders Jensen also spoke on the occasion.
The jury board, headed by Golam Sarwar Tipu, also featured Nazrul Islam Rumi, Jalal Ahmed Chowdhury, Salma Rafique and Minhajul Abedin.
The winners of Lifetime Achievement and Sportsperson of the Years each received Tk one lakh and the other winners Tk 50,000 each.