An association of basketball players has appealed to Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to consider conferring the Dronacharya Award posthumously on basketball coach Rajesh Patel who died recently.
The Integrated Basketball Players Association (IBPA), made the plea in a letter to the Minister, a copy of which was released to the media in Chennai.
“We wish to make an appeal to you in conferring posthumously the Dronacharya award to one of the best coaches in Indian basketball, Rajesh Patel who passed away last Monday while on duty – travelling in train for the National junior basketball championship in Ludhiana,” the IBPA said in the letter.
Patel, who had retired from Bhilai Steel Plant, had helped hundreds of basketball players make a career from the game for over three decades, at the national and international level, it said.
He had the unique record of helping Chhattisgarh teams winning the national titles at all levels from mini junior to seniors, Federation Cup and National Games, IBPA said.
“We, the members of IBPA strongly believe that Late Rajesh Patel deserves the Dronacharya award more than anyone because he has transformed lives of poorest of poor tribal girls,” it said.
Hundreds of deprived girls not only got chance to play basketball under his guidance but they emerged National champions. Many girls got government jobs, state awards and represented the country, the IBPA said.
Formerly known as Indian Basketball Players Association, IBPA is a unique association of Indian basketball players comprising Arjuna Awardees, former Indian captains and various International and National players from all over India for the welfare of players.