Odisha has created history by becoming the first state to openly sponsor an Indian sports team ever. In a mega event attended by both the Indian hockey teams [men and women], apart from top Hockey India officials, Indian Olympic Association and FIH President Narinder Dhruv Batra, the CM of Odisha Naveen Patnaik decided to fully sponsor the Indian hockey teams for the next five years.
To quote him, ‘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.“
The logo of the jersey is also unique in its own class, for it represents the legendary icons that define the state of Odisha, be it the Konark Sun Temple, or the endangered Olive Ridley Turtle, the dance of Odissi and their new love, field hockey. Who knew that the city of temples could give the wings Indian hockey desperately needed in years?
Odisha has now officially replaced Sahara India Pariwar as the official sponsor of the Indian hockey team, whose initial contract till 2021 was recently terminated by Hockey India.
Now the state will officially sponsor both the teams till 2023, including major events like the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2018 to be held at Gold Coast City, the Asian Games at Jakarta, and the much awaited Tokyo Olympics in 2020, where the country will aim to end their 4 decade old medal drought.
Elated by this revolutionary decision, Narinder Batra thanked the CM for the same and described Bhubaneswar as the sports capital of India. He also suggested Shri Patnaik to ‘come up with a High Performance Centre for the elite athletes.’
To be frank enough, this is nothing less than a revolution in the history of Indian sports. India, who complained of the government apathy towards the cause of sports, has very few states who’re seriously involved to the cause of improving the dreary picture, and Odisha is one proud claimant. Famous as the new cradle of field hockey, this state has been a major player in the sweet and surprising revival of the sport that was almost on the ventilator following the horrendous debacle of Beijing and London Olympics.
This state is famous for giving the following invaluable players to the Indian hockey team:-
1• Captain Ignace Tirkey, Olympian and member of the Junior World Cup champion team, 2001
2• Dilip Tirkey, Olympian and member of silver medalist Junior World Cup team, 1997
3• Birendra Lakra, Olympian and member of bronze medalist FIH Hockey World League team, 2015
4• Amit Rohidas, Asia Cup gold medalist
5• Dipsan Tirkey, Junior World Cup 2016 gold medalist
6• Namita Toppo, Olympian and Asia Cup 2017 gold medalist
That’s not all. The state has also proudly hosted the FIH Champions Trophy 2014, apart from being the owners of the Kalinga Lancers franchise of the Hockey India League. They’ve also hosted the final edition of the FIH Hockey World League Finals 2017, and are all set to welcome the top 16 teams of the world to the Odisha FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, to be held from 28 November to 16 December 2018.
Nothing can be more magical than this, and we won’t be surprised, if this state has a role to play in the Indian team climbing back on the victors’ podium at Tokyo Olympics. If this comes true, this nation shall be forever indebted to the generosity of Naveen Patnaik, who is one of the few politicians of this country to have risen above the muck of petty politics. He has set a benchmark for other states to follow.