Bhubaneswar, Nov 29 (LocalWire): Odisha is set to host the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 for the second time consecutively, owing to its successful execution of the Hockey World Cup in 2018.
The Hockey World Cup has been hosted by India three times out of the 14 times it has been held.
The first time was in 1982 in Mumbai, the second in 2010 in New Delhi and recently in 2018 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
Bhubaneswar and Rourkela are the two cities that will host the event in 2023, and deservedly so, given the massive popularity and love for hockey among the people of Rourkela.
The western district of Sundargarh, aptly known as the ‘cradle of hockey’, has contributed as many as 61 players to hockey.
It was past due that a hockey tournament of international repute be held here, a place aptly described by the Chief Minister as ‘the nerve centre of hockey’.
‘The hosting of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 in Rourkela is a befitting tribute to the contribution of Sundargarh to Indian Hockey.
It will put Rourkela on the global hockey map and also promote it in a big way in the heartland of hockey,’ Naveen Patnaik tweeted after the announcement.
In the backdrop of these positive tidings, let us look at a few pointers about hockey that every citizen of the state should be aware of.
1. The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018 hosted at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar was a spectacle pulled off impressively by the state government.
2.The state government is proactively supporting and nurturing hockey talent through its state-run sports hostels.
The oldest hostel for hockey players, Panposh Hostel, was started in Rourkela 33 years ago with an aim to provide free coaching, education and equipment to those who are selected.
It has been responsible for producing most, if not all, of Odisha’s prominent hockey players.
The government also encourages the youth by offering incentives such as jobs and cash prizes for star performers.
3. Odisha has, till date, hosted various Hockey India League matches, the FIH Champions Trophy in 2014, Hockey World Cup League Finals in 2017 and Odisha Hockey World Cup (Men) in 2018.
4. Sundargarh is the second largest district of Odisha and rich in hockey talent.
The Rourkela government hostel alone has given 50 players to the sport.
Hockey is a way of life for the majority of the population in Sundergarh, providing a purpose as well as economic ramifications for the tribals inhabiting the area.
It is said that whenever a match is won by a team, they are offered a goat as prize, while the runners up get a hen.
While the goat is usually given just so the team can then feast on it, it is also befitting, considering that it is a popular acronym in the sporting world – Greatest Of All Time.
5. Dilip Tirkey from Sundargarh Odisha, is a living legend of the game.
Born to hockey player Vincent Tirkey and Regina Tirkey, he is an ex-captain of the Indian hockey team, having held the position for 10 years.
He has many awards and achievements to his name, a few of them being the Padmashree, Arjuna Award and Ekalavya Award. He holds the honour of being the first-ever tribal to receive the Padmashree as well as of representing India in three Olympic games.
He remains India’s highest capped international hockey player (412 matches) and the second highest in the world.
6. Odisha has also produced many women hockey players.
Jyoti Sunita Kullu from Sundargarh was a member of the gold medal-winning team of Commonwealth Games 2002.
Lilima Minz, Namita Toppo and Sunita Lakra are currently in the national Indian team camp, while Birendra Lakra and Amit Rohidas are in the Indian men’s team. Deepgrace Ekka, Anupa Barla and Rashmita Minz are some more prominent names.
7. There are currently four synthetic hockey turfs in the Sundergarh district. The Chief Minister has sanctioned the building of 17 AstroTurfs, one for each block of the district after Odisha became the first destination to host back-to-back World Cups.
8. Odisha has been sponsoring the Indian National Hockey Team (Men and women) since February 2018 and will hold the position for the next 5 years. It is also the only state in India to sponsor a national sports team.
This initiative of the Odisha government shows its commitment and willingness towards the promotion of the game not only within the state’s boundaries, but also within the country.
Such a step is certain to encourage other state governments to take up the mantle of improving the situation of various other sports in India.
9. The Kalinga Lancers takes part in the Hockey India League.
It was launched in 2014 by a PSU of the government of Odisha, known as IDCO (Industrial Infrastructure Developmemt Corporation), in partnership with Mahanadi Coalfields Limited.
Odisha is the only state in the country which has a team of its own in the Hockey India League.
IDCO has won the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award for this unique initiative.
10. Odisha has signed seven MoUs with distinguished industrialists and sportspersons to set up High Performance Centres in the state, which will benefit sportspersons from all over the country.
Among others, it has a partnership with Tata Steel Ltd and Tata Trusts.