Bhubaneswar, November 28 (LocalWire): With the International Hockey Federation (IHF) announcing that the 2023 Men’s World Cup will be played in Odisha, hockey lovers in the state are visibly excited about being part of yet another global sports event.
The upcoming and budding hockey talents, the coaches and hockey administrators in Sundargarh, the nursery of Odisha hockey, are all elated, and strongly believe that the game will attain a newer height in the coming years.
“There could not have been any better news for us. The global event will provide greater exposure and will pave the way for revamping of infrastructure and sports facilities. The inmates of the sports hostel and hockey academy are ecstatic.
It is a big motivation for them to excel and script more success stories in the coming days,” coach of state-run Panposh Hockey Academy in Rourkela, Milton Bilung said.
“Hockey is the way life and part of local culture for the tribal communities living in the Sundargarh district.
One will find young boys and girls playing the game in any countryside. The world cup tournament will inspire more to take a plunge in the game,” former international hockey player and head coach of hockey academy at Steel Authority of India Peter Tirkey told the LocalWire.
Reflecting upon the earlier years of his hockey career, he highlighted that there was little in terms of sports infrastructure during the years he was playing the game.
However, he pointed out that hockey was a passion and it continues to be passionately pursued by youths from Sundargarh, particularly those from tribal communities.
“Things have steadily become better. When I represented India in Junior World Cup Hockey in 1982, there was no AstroTurf in Sundargarh. We toiled it out playing in the inhospitable grass fields. Now there are three astroturfs in Rourkela,” Tirkey, who was the first Odia to represent the country in the international event, stated.
“The state’s hockey teams across all age groups have majority players from Sundargarh. The district has produced over 70 international players over the years. Hockey will grow manifold in the future with hosting of the world cup event,” he said.
“The opportunity given to Rourkela to co-host 2023 World Cup is recognition by the government of the immense pool of hockey talent in Sundargarh district. My dream is to represent India in the tournament and showcase my talent to the home crowd. I am toiling hard towards realising the dream,” an upcoming hockey player and India prospect Suman Beck said.
He is an inmate of the government-run Sundargarh sports hostel.
“The state government’s initiative to provide 17 new AstroTurf, one in each block of Sundergarh will transform the game in the district.
The rural talents picked up for coaching initially find it tough to adapt to fast-paced AstroTurf. The facility will bring a sea of change in the game.
Along with AstroTurf, infrastructure like sports hostels ought to come up for in-house training of the aspiring hockey players.
If things go in the right direction, the Indian team will have a majority of players from Sundargarh,” Tirkey said.