From Jeakson Singh's goal for the history books to PV Sindhu's marathon final at the World Championships, here are the ESPN India staff members' picks for the Moment of the Year at the ESPN India Awards. Readers can vote for their pick until midnight on April 1 here.
Aizawl clinch I-League title with Shillong draw
The story of Aizawl's I-League win had it all: Outliers, small-town India, khadoos coach, unheralded players, passionate fans, fairytale finish. Aizawl winning the league on the last day of the season -- after a series of heart-stopping moments -- was the perfect tonic for that tired, discredited, near-irrelevant sport called Indian football.
Undoubtedly, unreservedly, unabashedly Aizawl winning the I-League, the first club from the North-east to get there. When the final whistle went at the end of a tumultuous April night at the Polo Grounds in Shillong, it became the rousing crescendo of a season like no other in Indian football, loaded with the anticipation of dreaming and the magic of watching the improbable come to life.
When Aizawl won the I-League, our desk was running a live blog following both Aizawl's match as well as Mohun Bagan's home game. I was in charge of the Bagan game, and watched them claw back from a 1-0 deficit to get the three points they needed. All of the action in Shillong, and the associated excitement from our desk, played out on another TV monitor. I could empathise with the Bagan players, but you had to applaud Aizawl's league win. It couldn't have happened any other way.
Aizawl's run from relegation to I-League champions last year was the perfect feel-good story from the world of Indian sport. It also breathed new life into the less-shiny-than-ISL I-League. And what is more, it meant that a team from the North-east -- where football rules -- finally won India's national league for the first time since inception in 1997.
PV Sindhu's World Championship final
My pick for moment of the year would be the 73-shot rally in the final of the World Championships, where Nozomi Okuhara defeated PV Sindhu. In what was arguably the match of the year, this rally stood out and ensured that the match went to a deciding game. It looked like the point had tilted the scales in Sindhu's favour but Okuhara had more in the tank eventually.
I was live-blogging PV Sindhu's World Championships final against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara. It was Sindhu's second time on the biggest stage, after the Rio Olympic final in 2016, which went down to the wire. Both players literally gave it everything, including a bruising 73-shot rally, to produce an epic match. Sindhu may have lost but she played her part in making it a gripping contest, one in which those watching felt as if they were riding the highs and lows of the match along with the players.
Pardeep Narwal's eight-point raid in the PKL
I would pick Pardeep Narwal's astonishing eight-point raid as my moment of 2017. Patna Pirates were already leading by 19 points and when captain Pardeep entered the court to raid -- with six people left on the Haryana Steelers' side -- everyone was expecting him to play safe. He then did the unthinkable, diving through each and every defender, and inflicted a single-handed all-out. His teammates started laughing, the competing team was left dumbstruck, while the viewers felt a mix of both emotions with what had just taken place.
Jeakson Singh's goal in the U-17 World Cup
When Jeakson Singh leapt above the Colombian defence to head home India's first ever goal at a FIFA tournament, he didn't just bring his team level in the match; he announced himself -- and by extension, India -- to the world. In the grand scheme of things, it didn't matter that India went on to lose the game and finished bottom of their group. For a nation starved of representation at football's biggest stage, the goal came as a cathartic moment of pride and relief. India were no longer just mingling with the big boys; given time and resources, they could even belong there.