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man of the match awards - 04/12/2003
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the man of the match awards in Kuwait

-by gasper crasto (04/12/2003)


"I myself was surprised when I received the news. I still think a couple of my team-mates would have been a better choice." These are the words of Dempo's versatile defender Stanley Colaco quoted in the Navhind Times recently (check: Stanley made the statement after he was selected the best defender at the Durand Cup in Delhi this year.
It wouldn't be surprising if some of the players in
Kuwait have the same to say when they hear their names called out for the man-of-the-match award during prize distribution functions of the Indian soccer finals.
The difference in the surprises however, would be the opinion of spectators witnessing the matches. The Indian soccer fans are a knowledgeable lot. Soccer aficionados and the media in India promptly acknowledged Stanley Colaco's award as most deserving while the few spectators who turn up to watch the games in Kuwait are no fools either. At the end of a prize distribution, many a spectator sometimes is never really satisfied with the decision of the man-of-the-match award. Somehow, several independent fans approach me with questions regarding the justice done to the award. But I have little to say because this is nothing new at award ceremonies of Indian soccer finals in
Kuwait. The man of the match is always as unpredictable as the Kuwait weather...
...But the comperes at the function always seem confident that the people gathered would easily figure out the man-of-the-match as they ask: Can you guess the man of the match? It is really pathetic to hear people shouting some other names. Mostly, I have noted that the people's choice is from the winning side which is not at all surprising. It has become a sort of a tradition in
Kuwait to award man-of-the-match awards only to the winning side and more so to goal scorers. So people have become accustomed to answer the guesses if at all they get a chance to yell at 'can you guess' questions.
We are all given to understand that the man of the match is given to a player par excellence on the field throughout the match. Different spectators have different opinions on the man-of-the-match in a match but their choice is seldom off the mark. Well, it is rare that the public sentiment decides immorally or unwisely, but the individual who differs from it ought to distrust and examine well his own opinion.
I wonder what makes the compere ask the public to guess? It is understandable of professional comperes doing the duty. Professional comperes make their best to use fancy language and get everybody involved in the party but there are some knowledgeable comperes as far as the game is concerned, who too try to get an answer from the public. How can they expect the people to guess if the award is going to a player who existed on the field like any other player or who has made little difference to the game? Sometimes it looks as if the man of the match was chosen even before the match had begun. But are we to blame a player for being selected for any award? We can only be happy for him.
Football is not a game of cricket where the man of the match can easily be guessed. In cricket, if a player scores maximum runs or takes many wickets and more so if he is on the winning side, he can easily be the man of the match. Judging the man of the match in football is quite a difficult task. But that does not mean the prize should be awarded on random basis, favoritism or past performance, but rather on the performance of the player in the match at stake. I have played little football and as a player I have been at many award ceremonies, but somehow, I find the integrity of some of the awards given away in
Kuwait to be most funny. Although I haven't been in Kuwait for long, I have noted some prizes given away which seem to make a mockery of awards.
Firstly, I have noted that there are few individual awards given, among which the man-of-the-match is somehow prominent. It is a hard feeling to know when an authentic display of the best player on the field goes unnoticed and unrewarded. It may mean nothing to some people but it means a lot to a player who feels he should have won that award. These kind of prestigious awards mean recognition for the overall achievements of a player which he will cherish all his life.


There are die-hard footballers in Kuwait whose only passion in an otherwise sleazy world here is football. Players who practice hard to put up a good showing to win some award are disappointed to see that the award always goes to a goalkeeper or a scorer; or a lucky player, who, most of the time is just a spectator on the field throughout the match. Should the scorer be given the man of the match only because he scores? What about players who run up and down to feed the scorers on a platter? What about the truly deserving players? What about the player who excels better than the rest?
Many a time, I am just curious to know the honesty of these awards but the furthest I can go is be satisfied with overheard questions and answers of the spectators. Here's what I heard after one of the non-regular one day tournament finals.
First spectator:  "Who won the man of the match?"
Second spectator: "X of your club."
First spectator:  "X?...But I never saw him do any magic there. He almost limped throughout the match..."
Second spectator:  "No, but it is because of him the team reached the finals. You see, he scored in the quarters and semis..."
Well, this is some truth. Still funny is to see a player who has entered as a substitute in the second session of a game being awarded the man of the match. This occurred in one of the major tournaments last season. I wonder if any man-of-the-match award elsewhere in the world shows such a record in football or any other sport.


Logically, the man of the match is supposed to be considered for the whole match and not part of the match. I have seen substitute goalkeepers in European and world soccer standing in only in the tie-breaker and win cups for their teams just by virtue of their saves. But is there any record of them being awarded the man of the match?


In Kuwait, we have some of the best established administrators of the game and I am really proud of people who are serving football but when it comes to confer a prestigious award, are they really involved? Many a time, the responsibility to choose the man of the match is left upon the chief guests, many of whom have never kicked a football all their life.
I have noted some of the only genuine and well deserved man of the match awards in games that I have watched. At the Navelim Youth Centre (NYC) Trophy 1999-00 final, Tiago Fernandes of Colva United Centre won the man of the match for his beautiful game against United Friends Club. This mid-fielder never scored any goals in the match but his shooting and precision passing was too exciting to watch. In the NYC trophy 2001, Colva's defender Batist DMello was awarded the man of the match for a noteworthy and memorable display against G.O.A Maroons. Bombay Boys' centre half Rumel Dias, man of the match at the 2002 YRC Trophy final last year was an unanimous and undisputed decision.
Many a time, at the prize distribution functions, there are more prizes for the committee members rather than the players. It looks that the organizers are actually more interested in self appraisals than in football. Best Discipline team awards too are given to teams which raises a doubt in people's mind. There is always a feeling that the organizers are trying to return some favor by bestowing this award on some particular team rather than awarding it on merit. Is there any glitter left in such an award? Can we really feel proud to win undeserved honors? Only, the KIFF League Fair Play Trophy given to the best disciplined team based on 'points' system is awarded in all fairness.
True lovers of the game would appreciate if organizers keep an adjudicator to decide the man of the match and other awards and let him justify the award/s in a few words like Ranjan Madugalle did after each match at the recently concluded one day tri-series cricket tournament in
India. And why can't the organizers be generous enough to make the finals a little more memorable for the players by keeping the best goalkeeper, defender, mid-fielder and striker awards other than just the man of the match?...
...Or you may guess what I want to say in conclusion like comedian Prince Jacob, the guest of honor at the YRC Rising Stars Silver Jubilee Trophy final, who cited an example of a Minister who was chief guest at a football game and told the organizers, "Why are the players running after one ball only? Give all of them a ball each and let them enjoy."

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