The Naveen Patnaik led administration has recently announced that the state government will sponsor Indian Hockey teams for ten more years. The current sponsorship will end in 2023.
The recent performance of the national teams in the Tokyo Olympics was remarkable and every countryman was praising the Manpreet and Rani led teams for their outstanding conduct at the Oi Hockey Stadium, Tokyo. Thanks to the Patnaik government for seeing the potential and came to savour the sport which has a glorious history.
India has won eight golds in Hockey since their maiden play in 1928, Netherlands Olympics. The last Gold match was in Moscow, 1980, Summer Olympics. Since then India was waiting for a medal at the most celebrated sport. This year, the men’s team claimed the Bronze at the Olympics by defeating Germany 5-4, while the women played their maiden semi-finals and stood at fourth. A marvellous play by both the teams on the world stage.
Just when Mr Patnaik was lauding the men’s and women’s teams after the grand show at the Olympics, he announced, “We, in Odisha, are elated that our partnership with Hockey India has led to this great achievement for the country. I believe Odisha and hockey are destined to become synonymous. We will continue our partnership with Hockey India. Odisha will support the Indian hockey teams for 10 more years.”
Although the exact amount of sponsorship is yet to be disclosed. In 2018, the littoral state had signed a ₹100 crore deal with Hockey India for financing the men’s and women’s teams for 5 years after Sahara India withdrew, subsequently getting entangled in legal issues.
Mr Patnaik, who has honoured each player with ₹10 Lakh and ₹5 lakh each to the support staff, articulated that each team player has made the country proud with their blazing battle at Tokyo Olympics.
“These are deeply emotional moments for India to witness the revival of Indian hockey. For nearly four decades, hockey fans have been yearning to see India grab a medal at the Olympics. The way the entire country was glued to the screens to watch the hockey teams’ matches, it is quite evident there is something more to hockey than just sports. In these crisis times, the teams have brought smiles to the faces of crores of Indians. We all should be thankful to our boys and girls,” he said, as quoted by the Hindustan Times. To that, showing their gratitude to him each team gifted him a framed jersey autographed by the players.
Patnaik also honoured the ‘player with the maximum number of goals scored’ award to Harmanpreet Singh while PR Sreejesh won the award for the player with the maximum number of goals saved. Nilakanta Sharma won the award for the maximum number of goal assists, Rupinder Pal Singh won the award for the player with the maximum number of defensive tackles and Harmanpreet Singh and Amit Rohidas were complimented with awards for maximum interceptions in the midfield.
In the women’s team, Gurjit Kaur and Vandana Katariya won the award for the maximum number of goals scored. Savita Punia won the award for the maximum number of goals saved. Rani Rampal and Navneet Kaur jointly won the award for the maximum number of goal assists. Deep Grace Ekka won for the maximum number of defensive tackles and P Sushila Chanu was awarded for maximum interceptions in the midfield.
“The team and I are very happy to be present here today as we wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the Odisha government for supporting our team. Our team is always made to feel so welcome when we come here… Odisha feels very much like the home of Indian hockey now,” said Rani, captain of the national women’s hockey team.
On the other hand, the captain of the men’s team, Manpreet Singh, who was delighted to be back in Odisha, said, “This bronze medal may have been won by us as players, but in reality, it equally belongs to India.” He also praised the Odisha CM for providing support to the hockey teams.