Mecca of hockey-“Sundargarh district” of Western Orissa forbidden a berth in the Indian team

April 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Following is a report from The Pioneer:

In the post-Dhyan Chand era, Sundargarh is synonymous with hockey and has continued to fetch sporting glory for India in the international sports arena. The tribal-dominated district of Odisha has proven its claim by producing around 50 junior and senior international players in both the men and women segments. Even, three to four players from here have already represented the national team at a time.

But, it is a pity that India, despite being the host of the World Cup, no one from the State was given a berth in the Indian team. However, the fans here do not fume as they are well-aware that, except Roshan Minz, all the State probables were down with injuries. Notwithstanding that, the miserable performance of the Indian hockey team in the World Cup 2010 has hurt the sports lovers though India could manage to obtain the eighth rank.

History reveals that hockey was introduced to Odisha by the Christian missionaries. Providentially, hockey that was started as a recreation, turned out to be a love affair for the tribal inhabitants who are noted to be gifted athletes here.

Passion for hockey was so deep that even shaky ground, bamboo sticks and cotton balls could not dissuade the tribals from producing extra-ordinary talents. Inter-village and intra-district tourneys brought talents to the fore and successful players and teams were encouraged by being rewarded kukuda (cock) and khasi (goat) as prizes.

Moreover, revamping started with the setting-up of hockey hostels and astro turfs by the Government in the mid-eighties. Trained youngsters proved their mettle in the national level tournaments. Among the talented players from the district are Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Peter Tirkey, William Xalxo, Roshan Minz, Amardeep Ekka, Birendra Ekka, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Subhadra Pradhan, Anupa and Binita who have played in almost all major senior and junior global championships.

Dilip is now the highest-capped international player. He along with Ignace, Probodh and Kullu have led India and among the four, while three have been conferred with Arjuna Awards, two Padmashri.

Besides, creating a medium for expression of sporting dexterity, hockey has proved to be a dignified profession, providing employment to more than 1,000 young people across the country. Thanks to a century-old relationship with hockey, Odisha is now reckoned as a leading State in the game and is possessing decent infrastructure with three astro turfs (two in Rourkela including one of the SAIL and one in Sundargarh), three Government-run training centres (hostels at Rourkela, Sundargarh and Cuttack), one SAIL managed training centre at Rourkela and more than 500 trained players.

Able management is the need of the hour for further improvement of the game. Observers believe that Odisha Hockey Association should pilot in taking the game to more youngsters by organising more domestic tournaments. The efforts should be given to host both the national and international tournaments here as three well-equipped grounds are available in Sundargarh district.

Hockey aficionados also seek engagement of more coaches and trainers for proper guidance of youngsters and refresher courses for coaches to keep them well-run with the latest trends in the game.

But, what everyone urges to be done first is the completion of the State Hockey Academy at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar without further delay. Simultaneously, steps should be paced up for setting up a Sports University with speciality on Hockey in Sundargarh district. Otherwise, the Mecca of hockey may soon turn to be a barren place, sports observers here apprehend.


Entry filed under: Hockey, Jharsuguda, Region watch, Sports, Sundergarh.

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