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Seven Maharashtra players honoured with the Shiv Chhatrapati award

by Sagar Shah - 21/02/2019

The state of Maharashtra continued with its excellent tradition of feting all the players who have achieved their GM/IM/WGM/WIM titles in the past year, with the Shiv Chhatrapati award. There were 19 players who received the Shiv Chhatrapati award in 2018. This year seven players were felicitated. They were: IM Rakesh Kulkarni, IM Harshit Raja, WIM Saloni Sapale, WIM Divya Deshmukh, IM Raunak Sadhwani as players, and GM Swapnil Dhopade and WIM Mrunalini Kunte as trainers. Each of the winners receive Rs.1,00,000 from the Maharashtra Government. We bring you some exclusive pictures on the felicitation ceremony which took place at the Gateway of India, Mumbai on 17th of February. 

In order to boost a sport in the country the entire ecosystem should work seamlessly. And an extremely important part of a well-oiled ecosystem for a sport is government awards. Recognition from the government makes the player feel really good about all the efforts and sacrifices that he or she has made to become better at the sport. The highest sporting honour in the state of Maharashtra is the Shiv Chhatrapati award. All those who win the award receive Rs.1,00,000 from the Maharashtra Government and also some added incentives like free bus travel in non a/c transport within the state, exemption from paying money at some road tolls, etc. After 2013, the Shiv Chhatrapati awards had been stalled in the field of chess. In 2018 thanks to the efforts of AMCA, and some senior players of the state, 19 players received this prestigious award. Some of the big names included GM Vidit Gujrathi, GM Swapnil Dhopade, GM Abhimanyu Puranik, GM Shardul Gagare and others. This year, five players and two coaches were given the award.

(Top row left to right): GM Swapnil Dhopade (for being the coach of Raunak Sadhwani), WIM Divya Deshmukh, IM Raunak Sadhwani, WIM Mrunalini Kunte (coach of IM Abhishek Kelkar), (Bottom row left to right): IM Rakesh Kulkarni, IM Harshit Raja, WIM Saloni Sapale. 

The Gateway of India with the iconic Taj hotel in the background | Photo: Amruta Mokal

These beautiful trophies are awarded to each and every Shiv Chhatrapati award winner | Photo: Amruta Mokal

IM Harshit Raja from Pune with his entire family! | Photo: Facebook page of Harnish Raja

IM Rakesh Kulkarni from Mumbai looking smart in his blazer, pheta (turban) and goggles! | Photo: Rakesh Kulkarni's Facebook page

WIM Mrunalini Kunte receiving the Jijamata award (mother of Shivaji) for her contribution towards the IM title of Abhishek Kelkar | Photo: Mrunalini Kunte's Facebook page

Bharat Sadhwani collected the award on behalf of his son Raunak. The youngster from Nagpur is busy beating GMs at the Aeroflot Open 2019.

Hema and Sunil Dhopade, proud parents of Swapnil Dhopade. Swapnil has won the Shiv Chhatrapati award for two years in a row. In 2018 he won it for his GM title. In 2019 he received the award for training Raunak Sadhwani to become an IM.

WIM Saloni Sapale from Pune, who won the award for her WIM title, is flanked by the fathers of Swapnil and Raunak.

Saloni made a very gracious decision of donating the entire amount of Rs.1,00,000 to the martyrs of Pulwama Attack.

There is no one more deserving than the 13-year-old Divya Deshmukh. She received the award for her WIM title. Recently she achieved her maiden IM norm! | Photo: Niklesh Jain

A big congratulations to all the Shiv Chhatrapati award winners. This felicitation is sure to motivate each one of them to achieve greater heights. We congratulate Maharashtra government and AMCA for their efforts in ensuring that the achievers of Maharashtra chess are recognized.

Related news:
19 players from Maharashtra feted with the Shiv Chhatrapati Award

@ 18/02/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)