Bhubaneswar: Hosting an international sports event involving a sizable number of countries from across the globe is not a mean feat. For a country like India, and for a state like Odisha, it’s an achievement that nobody can disregard. As a host to the biggest event of Hockey, the Men’s World Cup, Odisha today is proud for its organizing capability.
The successful hosting of the 2018 Hockey Men’s World Cup has been endorsed by the Hockey World Body and Hockey India when it was announced that the Men’s World Cup Hockey 2023 will also be held in Odisha. For the first time in the history of Hockey, two consecutive World Cups will be hosted at the same place. This reinforces Odisha’s resurgence as the sports capital of India.
The glorious history of Hockey in India during the first half of the twentieth century when India dominated the world can never be forgotten. It seems that the same euphoria and the same commitment will again come back to India in the coming days. The steps taken by Odisha for the development of Hockey and organization of biggest events at the Kalinga Stadium are surely going to bring back India’s glory in international Hockey.
The Government of Odisha led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been giving utmost importance to development of sports especially Hockey in the state. It has provided considerable amount of money for the development of Hockey infrastructure in Odisha. Today, Odisha has the best Hockey turf in India. While the state government had spent more than Rs 100 Crore for sports infrastructure including hockey in the last few years, it has committed to pump in more funds for the same in the coming days. While announcing the decision to host the 2023 Hockey World Cup in Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen also said that the state will also put up 17 more Astro turfs in the state – the best a state can do for the game. This gigantic effort can be possible only due to the strong leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his team of officers. While the Sports Department led by Secretary Vishal Dev and Director Vineel Krishna has been working tirelessly to develop the sports scenario, the young and energetic 5T Secretary V K Pandian has been keeping himself busy in the development of sports infrastructure in the state. The commitment of these officials is the force behind the Hockey World coming back to Odisha again.
Odisha’s tryst with hockey has a remarkable history. After being introduced in the second half of Nineteenth Century in the Sundargarh area, Hockey has made its inroads to the nook and corner of Odisha’s western Odisha. Sundargarh has the distinction of producing maximum number of national and international level players for India.
Odisha’s Sundargarh has been synonymous with hockey and has continued to fetch sporting glory for India in the international sports arena. The tribal-dominated district of Odisha has proven its claim by producing more than 60 national and international players in both the men and women category. Hockey was introduced to Odisha by the Christian missionaries. Providentially, hockey that was started as a recreation, turned out to be a love affair for the tribal inhabitants who are noted to be gifted athletes here.
The passion for hockey is so deep that even with the uneven grounds with sticks made up of bamboo and rubber balls, Sundargarh could produce the best of the game. Even today there are local tournaments in Sundargarh where the prize is a cock or a goat.
With the official support to the sport and revamping of infrastructure and setting-up of hockey hostels and astro turfs by the Government of Odisha in the mid-eighties, Hockey flourished in Odisha like no other game. Today, the state government is giving priority to Hockey by providing funds and facilities. Trained youngsters from government run sports hostels have proved their mettle in the national level tournaments. Some of the best players from Odisha include Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Peter Tirkey, William Xalxo, Roshan Minz, Amardeep Ekka, Birendra Ekka, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Subhadra Pradhan, Anupa and Binita who have played in almost all major senior and junior global championships. Five national team captains Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Subhadra Pradhan and Jyoti Sunita Kulu have come from Odisha.
The sports hostel in Panposh, Rourkela has been the center for Odisha’s Hockey resurgence. Along with this, the other two hostels developed at Sundergarh by the Sports Authority of India and the Odisha government helped players get the best training and participate in national championships. For Sundergarh, Hockey is not just a game but a way of life. An integral part of the youth and source of livelihood for thousands, it is here to stay and the government is committed for its growth.
The announcement for Odisha hosting the 2023 Hockey Men’s World Cup has been cheered by one and all. While sports lovers welcomed the move, legislators of the Odisha Assembly were unanimous in praising the Chief Minister for his efforts. The State Assembly passed a unanimous resolution thanking Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Government for deciding to hold Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2023. Congress Legislature Party Leader Narasingha Mishra moved the resolution in the assembly. BJP’s Legislature Party Leader Bishnu Sethi also praised the government saying hockey players of Sundargarh have enhanced the prestige of Odisha not only in the country but outside. While India stands 13th in the hockey game, Odisha Government’s decision to host the Men’s Hockey World Cup is appreciable.