Sportstar Aces celebrates the best in Indian athletics in 2011-2020
The third edition of the Sportstar Aces awards is being held on the virtual platform from April 1 to April 4
In 2019, Sportstar – the fortnightly sports magazine published by The Hindu Group – re-launched its annual awards, Sportstar Aces with an aim to identify and reward the most deserving athletes. This year, The Sportstar Aces Awards 2021 celebrates the consistency of performance and the impact of sports stars in the decade between 2011 and 2020. To celebrate this milestone edition, Sportstar Aces Awards 2021 has the tagline, ‘Giants of the Decade’. Aces began with a curtain raiser show on 27th March and the awards are being presented from April 1 to April 4 in a virtual avatar.
With major sporting competitions cancelled, curtailed or played without spectators in the stadiums in 2020, judging the winners was a challenge. Ayon Sengupta, Editor, Sportstarsays, “In a year like this, it was very difficult for us to truly judge and quantify the performance of athletes since so little sport was played. But we were firm in our belief to continue with the Awards, and so, in consultation with our Jury, we decided to make it a celebration of Indian sports for the decade 2011 to 2020.”
The Judging Process
This year, Aces has 11 Awards under the Popular Choice category that was open for public voting and over 1.5 lakh votes were received. The public choice acts as the ‘guiding light’ for the jury who then takes the final call. New categories include Club of the Decade and Moment of the Decade and special recognition award under a new category called Sports for Good, where the work of organisations/individuals who have used sports for the betterment of society and been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. In addition, there are 12 jury awards that are being given.
Sportstar Aces’ esteemed jury comprises of former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar – Chairperson of the Jury-, former World Champion shooter Anjali Bhagwat, former India hockey captain M. M. Somaya, five-time World chess champion Viswanathan Anand, nine-time National badminton champion Aparna Popat and former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia.
Game On For Partners &Sponsors
As Aces 2021 is a digitally anchored event, The Hindu has not partnered with TV channels like it did in the past years. However, they have leveraged the association with its partners in One India and radio to enhance the reach through Hindustan Times and Fever FM.
Commenting on getting sponsors on board Suresh Balakrishna, Chief Revenue Officer, The Hindu Group says, “When we started out, we were a bit skeptical to be honest, given the year we have all faced and the financial strain on industries due to the pandemic. Also, since we were pitching for a completely digital avatar. However, we have received an overwhelming response and support from our sponsors, and we are glad to have their trust.”
The partners for Sportstar Aces Awards 2021 are: Powered by partner, MRF, who have come on-board for the third year in a row; Associate Partner: Life Insurance Corporation of India (second year in a row); Destination Partner: Odisha – the third year in a row; Banking Partner: Union Bank of India – the second year in a row; Energy Partner: SPEED | Bharath Petroleum; Realty Partner: BAASHYAAM and School Partner: SSVM Institutions
Adds Balakrishna, “We are extremely happy with the way in which our advertisers have responded to this edition of the digital awards. While we cannot match the on-ground revenue, trust me our team came very close to matching the revenues. Maybe a few years from now, when everyone is accustomed to fully digital events, we will surpass on-ground revenues. But for now, we are okay with being a brand that has always been the first one to experiment and take the risks. We will give the rest some time to catch up.”
Talking about the challenges, Balakrishna says, “A major challenge was throwing light on the workings of a virtual platform and how we will be able to add value to our clients. Our sponsors had concerns over promotions and winner participations etc. But we had a thorough plan along with a return of investment in place and when we walked them through it, they were more than happy to come on board. Our partners are as forward-thinking as we are and that results in a success formula.”
On a final note, Sengupta says, “After we re-launched and reimagined the awards in 2018, we have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from every stakeholder of Indian sport. Even in a difficult year like this, they have shown the same faith and love towards us. We have always kept athletes and their performances at the forefront and have never been swayed by big names or the commerce that many say drives sports these days. For us, every achievement of every athlete matters, and we have followed that principle over the years and will continue to do so.”
Partner Speak/ Sponsor Speak
Vishal K Dev, IAS, Principal Secretary to Government, Sports and Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha
The Aces awards is a unique platform and invites strong adjudication from the sporting fraternity. Odisha has been at the forefront of supporting and promoting all sports, not just at the State but also National level. Today, Odisha is a preferred sports destination for many federations, and I feel this association as a destination partner amplifies the brand equity amidst the sports ecosystem.
Yogendra Singh, General Manager, Corporate Communications
Union Bank of India has a strong belief in the spirit of sports as it motivates to achieve, conquer and set new benchmarks. Union Bank is always at the forefront of encouraging sports. We have our sports teams representing our bank in various tournaments. As the Indian sports scenario is looking up, our efforts are to put our bank as an institution that encourages the winning spirit in India.
Dr. Manimekalai Mohan, Founder & Managing Trustee, SSVM Institutions
SSVM is a group of Educational Institutions with a multi-sports culture, and through our association with Sportstar Aces Awards, we look forward to inspiring our young learners of SSVM with the legacy of the sports world and its achievements. SSVM sows the seed of consistency in performance and encourages every learner to achieve quality education and build a real sports personality's leadership character.
To register for Sportstar Aces, visit http://bit.ly/SSAATHG
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