Bhubaneswar, August 17 (IANS) The Odisha government, which has sponsored the Indian hockey teams since 2018, will continue its protection for Indian hockey for another 10 years.
The announcement was made by Odisha’s Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Tuesday at a special event hosted to delight Indian men and women’s hockey teams for their outstanding performances at the recently concluded Olympics in Tokyo.
In recognition of their performance and their potential to be the best teams in the world, Patnaik announced that Odisha will continue to sponsor Indian hockey teams for another 10 years after the current sponsorship agreement ends in 2023.
“We in Odisha are pleased that our partnership with Hockey India has led to this great achievement for the country. I think Odisha and hockey are destined to become synonymous, ”Patnaik said.
“We will continue our partnership with Hockey India. Odisha will support the Indian hockey teams for another 10 years. This will usher in a new era of Indian hockey and bring glory to the nation, ”said the Prime Minister at the event.
After 41 years, India won a medal in hockey at the Olympics after the men’s team won bronze in Tokyo on August 5 and defeated Germany 5-4 in an exciting play-off meeting.
In Tokyo, the women’s hockey team’s dream of securing a virgin Olympic medal remained unfulfilled after losing 3-4 to Great Britain in the bronze medal match, their best performance to date at the Olympics.
Patnaik said the hockey teams made everyone proud of their lively show in Tokyo.
“It was a deeply emotional moment for India to witness the revival of hockey. For almost four decades, hockey fans longed to see India win a medal at the Olympics. The way the whole country was glued to the television screens to watch the hockey team’s matches, it is quite clear that there is something more about hockey than just sports, ”said Patnaik.
“Given the Covid pandemic, it is remarkable that our teams worked so hard despite all the challenges and came out victorious. At times of such a crisis, the teams brought smiles to the face on cranes of Indians. We should all be grateful to our boys and girls, ”he continued.
On the occasion, the prime minister fields both men’s and women’s teams.
Each player was awarded Rs 10 lakh while each support staff was awarded Rs 5 lakh by the Prime Minister. As a sign of appreciation, each team gave a framed jersey, signed by the players to Patnaik.
Patnaik also awarded 13 prizes. From the men’s team, Harmanpreet Singh won the highest scoring prize, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh won the prize for making the maximum number of saves, Nilakanta Sharma won the prize for highest assists, Rupinder Pal Singh won the prize for making the maximum number of tackles, while Harmanpreet and Amit Rohidas shared the prize to make the maximum interceptions in midfield.
From the women’s team, Gurjit Kaur and Vandana Katariya shared the highest score, Savita Punia won the award for making the maximum number of saves, Rani Rampal and Navneet Kaur shared the highest assist award, Deep Grace Ekka won the award for making the maximum number of defensive tackles, while P. Sushila Chanu won the award for making the maximum number of interceptions in midfield. Each was awarded Rs 5 lakh.
The President of the Indian Olympic Association, Narinder Batra, who has played a central role in the revival of hockey in India, was also congratulated by the Prime Minister on the occasion.
Patnaik also awarded Odisha doctor Bibhu Kalyan Nayak, who was named the first Indian FIH doctor at the Olympics in Tokyo, with Rs 5 lakh.
Odisha’s Prime Minister also congratulated Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam, Secretary General Rajinder Singh, CEO Elena Norman and all Hockey India staff and awarded Rs 50 lakh to the federation.
The women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal said: “The team is very happy to be here today and we would like to express our deepest thanks to the Odisha Government for supporting our team. Our team always makes us feel so welcome here that Odisha feels very much like the home of Indian hockey now. ”
Men’s team captain Manpreet Singh said: “It feels good to be back here in Odisha, the place we call our home away from home, and now one of the biggest reasons for our success at the Olympics in Tokyo. This bronze medal may have been won by us as players, but in truth it also belongs to India – a gift from Prime Minister Naveen Patnaikji, whose vision and constant encouragement helped us achieve our dream of winning an Olympic medal after 41 years. ”
Narinder Batra thanked Patnaik and the people of Odisha for showing their love and devotion to hockey and for helping the teams achieve the Olympic dream for India.
“With your continued support, Indian hockey will look forward to building on the results of the Tokyo Olympics and continuing this steady rise to take Indian hockey back to the elite level where it belongs,” Batra said.
He also thanked the Prime Minister and other dignitaries for their unconditional support for hockey and the national teams.
bbm / arm