Shillong, Jan 12: Klingson Marak, a blind footballer who has been at the forefront of the sport in the state and nationally over the last few years, has been named as this year’s Kiang Nangbah Award winner for sports.
The announcement was made after a state cabinet meeting held yesterday.
Meghalaya has a strong blind football team and the state won the IBFF National Blind Football Tournament for the third time (including twice in the last two years) in September.
Marak was the joint top scorer of the competition and shared the Player of the Tournament award.
The South West Garo Hills native has also captained the Indian national team and is a real fighter on the pitch.
Also last year, Marak scored against Argentina at the IBSA Blind Football World Grand Prix in Mexico. Marak’s goal, in India’s last fixture, was his team’s first of the tournament.
In December he met Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who described Marak as a “champion against all odds”.
Blind football is a five-a-side game where all players except the goalkeeper are blindfolded and are assisted by a coach and a goal guide. The players are guided by the sound of the ball, which contains bells. The goalkeeper, goal guide (who stays behind the opposite goal) and the coach (who runs along the side of the pitch) are the three sighted assistants who call out and direct the players to move with the ball and to shoot.
Blind football is a Paralympic sport and the IBFF is affiliated to the Paralympic Committee of India and the International Blind Sports Federation, New Delhi. The IBFF has been developing blind football players at the grassroots through awareness camps around the country since 2013.