KATHMANDU, July 20: Teenage volleyball sensation Pratibha Mali marked her debut for the national team at a tender age of 13. Now the 15-year-old Prathiba is named as one of the five nominees for the peoples' choice award under the Pulsar Sports Award to be held on Thursday in the capital.
A tenth grader at New Diamond Academy, Pratibha, will be competing against footballer Nawayug Shrestha, cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane, weightlifter Tara Devi Pun and table tennis player Nabita Shrestha for the honor. The winner among them will be decided on the basis of SMS votes and Facebook likes. The winner will be rewarded with a Pulsar motorbike.
Spiker Pratibha was a key player during Nepal's second place finish in the South Asian Women's Volleyball Championship held in the capital two years ago. She was 13 then and set a record of playing for the national team as the youngest player. In course of time, her performance in court is getting better.
Pratibha lived up to the expectations in the 12th South Asian Games held last year in India. She played an important role in Nepal's third place finish. In the domestic level, she emerged as a key player for New Diamond Academy after Ramila Tandukar left the team and eventually settled in the USA.
Out of five domestic tournaments New Diamond participated in last year (2072 BS), it secured top finish in one and settled for second place in the remaining events. During an Open Volleyball Tournament held in Pokhara last year, New Diamond made hat-trick of titles defeating Armed Police Force (APF). Pratibha was also named best player of the tournament for third year in a row. Besides this, she was named best player in three tournaments and best spiker in two others that New Diamond competed in. New Diamond is the only non-departmental team which has been able to give tough fight to the departmental rivals.
“Hard effort and support of coach Kumar Rai and teammates is the key to the team's and my success. The success we achieved led to my nomination in the Sports Award. I thank my coach, family, teammates and friends for this,” she said.
Coach Kumar Rai was also full of praise for Pratibha. “She is a hard working and disciplined player. She is getting better every other day,” Rai said.
The 13th edition of the annual Sports Award being organized by Nepal Sports Journalists Forum rewards sports persons in various eight categories.
The winners of the people's choice award, male and female player of the year will receive a Pulsar motorbike each.
The winners of remaining five categories - youth, coach, special, para and lifetime achievement award will get Rs 50,000 each.