Geethu Anna Jose proud to have been recommended for Arjuna

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 13, 2014, 19:00 PM IST

New Delhi: On the verge of becoming the first basketball player to get the Arjuna Award after 13 years, national women`s team captain Geethu Anna Jose on Wednesday said that she was proud to have been recommended for the coveted honour.

Jose, who was among 15 sportspersons recommended for the Arjuna Awards by a selection panel yesterday, is set to become only the second woman to attain this distinction after Suman Sharma way back in 1983.

"Historically, since it is very difficult for Indian teams to participate in the Olympics and win medals at the Asian level due to tough competition from teams like China, Indian basketballers are sometimes ignored for the Arjuna Award," said Jose.

Prior to Jose, 16 basketballers have received the Arjuna Award, though Parminder Singh Sr was the last cager to get the award in 2001.

This is the fifth time Jose`s name was forwarded by the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Thanking her family, Jose said, "My husband Rahul has been a big support. He waited for two years before marrying me earlier this year, because he didn`t want to disturb my personal commitments."

Hailing from Kottayam, Kerala, Jose enjoyed a glittering basketball career over the past decade after she made her senior Indian team debut in 2004.

Most notably, she is the first Indian, male or female, to be called for tryouts for America`s National Basketball League in 2011 (or NBA), the best elite professional basketball league in the world. Jose is also the first Indian woman to have played professionally in Australia.

Playing the centre position, the 6ft 2 inch Malayalee has shouldered most of the scoring responsibilities for India.

The hoopster is hopeful that this award will renew interest towards Indian basketball.

"This will motivate other youngsters. If not annually, I urge that Arjuna Awards be given to basketball players at least once every few years," she said in a BFI release.