Role of Odisha Government in India’s Hockey development

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Role of the Odisha Government in Indian Hockey at the Tokyo Olympics | SportzPoint
It is well known that Odisha considers Hockey as a part of their culture. After Sahara's exit in 2018, the Odisha government took over the sponsorship of the national hockey teams both at junior and senior levels.
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The Tokyo 2020 campaign is the most successful Olympic campaign for India. That is to say, they won seven medals, including 1 Gold, 2 Silvers and 4 Bronze. However, most of the athletes were pretty close to a medal but couldn’t finish in the top 3. One such example is the Indian women’s Hockey team who finished fourth in the competition but created history by reaching the semis. On the other hand, the men clinched the bronze medal ending a 41-year medal drought in Hockey. The role of the Odisha Government in the recent success of the Indian Hockey scene is just incomparable.

Also Read: Every Indian Hockey Captain to win Olympic Medal

Hockey is not just a sport for Odisha, it is a part of their culture. You might have noticed the word Odisha written in bold in front of the Hockey team jerseys. It is because Odisha took over the reins of sponsorship of both the men and women’s Hockey teams after Sahara’s exit in 2018. The Odisha government pledged Rs 150 crore for sponsoring the teams for five years. Under Naveen Patnaik’s leadership, the state government organized the Champions Trophy and rebuilt the Kalinga Stadium. It aimed to bring the focus and the interest of the nation back on hockey which was losing its popularity.

The connection between Odisha and Hockey:

Dilip Tirkey, Chairman of Hockey Odisha Promotion Council Board | SportzPoint
Dilip Tirkey | Chairman of Hockey Odisha Promotion Council Board
Image – Getty Images

Odisha had always been a part of the rich hockey culture of the country. It has produced some of the finest players in India. Former captain Dilip Tirkey, defender Lazarus Barla, brothers Prabodh and Ignace Tirkey and women hockey players like Jyoti Sunita Kullu have come from the tribal belt, mainly from Sundargarh district in the western part of the state – also called the ‘nursery of hockey. Moreover, the current vice-captains of both the men’s and women’s hockey teams are from Odisha.

Also Read: Every Indian Hockey Captain in Olympics

In some of the districts of Odisha, Hockey is not just limited to a mere sport, it has become a part of the culture. It is the most aware state of India with respect to Hockey. The state has also built some of the best facilities and stadiums for the players. Odisha also focuses on finding the talents out as they have 12 grassroots centres, at which over 2,500 young trainees are being trained.

Odisha Government and its effort towards Hockey:

Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha | SportzPoint
Navin Patnaik | Chief Minister of Odisha
Image – Getty Images

In 2018, the state government hosted the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup and never looked back as it played host to World League, Pro-League and Olympic qualifiers and many more tournaments. In collaboration with the Tata group, in 2018 the state government set up the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High-Performance Centre (HPC) at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. It was opened with a vision to groom the upcoming sporting talent in hockey and produce world-class sportspersons.

Also Read: The Khel Ratna Award Renamed As Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award

Odisha hosted many big events of Hockey in the past and is now all set to host the Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2023. Subsequently, Bhuvaneshwar and Rourkela will be the two places where the matches will take place. Moreover, the Patnaik government is building the country’s biggest hockey stadium in Rourkela. It will have a seating capacity of 20,000 and will be named after tribal leader Birsa Munda.

Odisha government has also announced the construction of synthetic turfs in all district headquarters to notch up hockey talents and nurture them. The Tata Naval Hockey High-Performance Centre is working in the direction of realising this dream.

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