New Delhi: In a first-of-its-kind association, Indian hockey today got a new sponsor in state government of Odisha, which has decided to support the game for the next five years.
The announcement was made by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during a grand function here today, which was also attended by both the Indian men’s and women’s hockey team players, International Hockey Federation (FIH) and IOA President Narinder Batra, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta among other dignitaries.
During the function, Odisha government also unveiled its logo that will don the new jerseys of both the teams.
Although it is not known how much money the state is going to pump into hockey, the association holds great significance for the development of the sport.
Commenting on the association, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “Hockey in Odisha is more than a sport, it’s a way of life, especially in our tribal regions where children learn to walk with hockey sticks.
“No wonder Odisha has produced India’s finest hockey talent. This is a first where a state government will not just be promoting a sport within its boundaries but will also support and nurture India hockey. This is Odisha’s gift to the nation.”
Odisha is regarded as the cradle of hockey and has produced greats like Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey and Lazarus Barla in the past.
The current Indian teams also has the likes of Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas, Deepsan Tirkey and Namita Toppo to name a few.
Odisha has been supporting the game with various initiatives and also won the Kalinga Lancers in the Hockey India League.
The Capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar has hosted international tournaments like the 2014 Champions Trophy and last year’s Hockey World League Final.
Odisha is also the host and proud title sponsor of the FIH men’s Hockey World Cup to be held later this year.
The newly designed logo on the Indian national hockey team jersey is a summation of Odisha — the Konark Wheel, the state’s famed coastline, endangered Olive Ridley turtles, Odissi dance form and hockey.
Thanking the state government for its continuous support, FIH and IOA President Batra called Bhubaneswar as the sports capital of India.
He also requested the Odisha government to built a state-of-the-art High Performance Centre for elite athletes of the country.
“I would request the Govt of Odisha to come up with a High Performance Centre for elite athletes. Like Delhi is the capital of India, Bombay the financial capital of the country, Bengaluru IT capital, for me Bhubaneswar is the sports capital of the country,” Batra said.
Batra also informed that the opening ceremony of the World Cup will be held a day before the start of the event. The World Cup will be held from November 28 to December 16 this year.