From basic programs to building state-of-the-art infrastructure, Odisha is paving the way for a brighter hockey future

There was a lot of noise about the Odyssey model after the Indian hockey feats at the Tokyo Olympics. Everyone is talking about the financial sponsorship given by the state government to Hockey India, which runs the game in the country, but few know about Odisha’s love of hockey and how it started.

Hockey India and Sahara, then sponsors of the Indian team, split in January 2017. Hockey India was left without a sponsor, but at first the Odisha government, led by Chief Minister Naven Patnaik, volunteered to support the sport, which has lost its fame.

Odisha’s love of hockey began back in 2014 when she became the first country to have a team in the Hockey India League. Clothing eventually won the 2017 title. From organizing major international tournaments to creating world-class players, Odisha has done it all.

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The country boasts big names in sports, such as the triple Olympian Dilip Tirkey and current assistant captain of the men’s national team Birendra Lakra, to name just a few. In Tokyo Olympic gamesthe Indian men’s and women’s team had four players from the state. Deep Grace Ekka he was the assistant captain of the women’s national team.

Numerous newspaper reports have surfaced detailing how the state government has helped Indian hockey with its sponsorship, paving the way for the recent stellar results of national teams. But few know what Odisha did behind the scenes to popularize the game in the state.

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Its core program is one of the key reasons for the endless supply of world-class hockey players from the state. We look at the steps the state has taken to keep the glory of hockey alive.


AstroTurfs in all 17 blocks of Sundargarh district

Just before the 2018 World Cup, Naveen Patnaik announced the installation of AstroTurf pitches in all 17 blocks of Sundargarh. Until then, there were only four AstroTurfs in the district. This provided more opportunities for beginners to play on a specific hockey field.

Odisha will also host the 2023 World Cup, and matches will be played in Rourkela and Bhubaneswar, the state’s capital.

Speaking about the 2023 tournament, Sydney 2000 Olympian Lazarus Barla, who looked at the situation in Rourkela, said:

“This tournament is an honor to the people of Sundargarh, who have loved hockey all their lives. The largest hockey stadium to be built here in Rourkela will encourage more children to play hockey as a sport. ”


For Odyssey residents, hockey is a way of life

The love that the people of Odysse have for hockey is one of the main reasons for the huge support of the state government for this sport.

For the people of Sundargarh and the entire tribal belt in Odisha, hockey is not just a game, it is an emotion. You will hardly find a family without hockey players.

According to Rahul Ekki, a national player and resident of Sundargarh:

“Everyone in Sundargarh plays hockey. Every household has at least one player, no matter what job they do. ”


Centennial ‘khasi’ tournaments

We have tournaments all over India where the winners get either cash prizes or trophies. But that is not the case in Sundargarh.

Here people play a unique tournament, where the winning team gets a ‘khasi’. in Odia, khasi means goat. Yes, goat! Not only goats, but here too people are playing for hens and eggs.

“It is important for us to play hockey. We really don’t want any cash prizes for hockey. This tradition has been going on for many years and we want to keep it alive, ”said 52-year-old Ranjan Kujur, who still plays in the khasi tournament.

Needless to say, all the hockey greats and Olympians produced by Odisha, including Olympic medalists Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas, are from Sundargarh and have played many khasi tournaments in their younger days.

Pictures from the khasi tournament

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With newfound enthusiasm, it remains to be seen if Indian hockey can reach greater heights and attract more sponsorships. The performance of the men’s and women’s teams inspired many to dream. The men’s bronze medal in Tokyo is ready to become a springboard for future glory in sports.


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