Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today announced that the Odisha Government has extended sponsorship of Indian National Hockey Teams by another 10 years. Addressing a function held here to felicitate the Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams who returned from Tokyo after a stellar show, Naveen said, “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.” In recognition of their achievement and their potential to be the top teams in the world, Chief Minister announced that Odisha will continue to sponsor Indian Hockey teams, for another 10 years.
The Chief Minister felicitated Captain Rani Rampal and women’s team, Captain, Manpreet Singh and the men’s team which bagged the bronze at Tokyo 2020. Each player was awarded Rs 10 Lakh and each support staff was awarded Rs 5 lakhs by the Chief Minister. As a token of regards and appreciation, each team gifted a framed Jersey autographed by the players to the Chief Minister.
“You made us all so proud with your spirited fight at Tokyo. These are deeply emotional moments for India to witness the revival of Indian Hockey. For nearly four decades, the 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 the back ground of the Covid pandemic, it is remarkable that our teams have worked so hard in spite of all challenges and emerged victorious. In these crisis times, the teams have brought smiles on the faces of crores of Indians. We all should be thankful to our boys and girls. This will herald a new era of Indian Hockey and bring back the glory to the nation,” the CM added.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, also gave away 13 awards. In the men’s team, Harmanpreet Singh won the Player with maximum number of goals scored, PR Sreejesh won the Player with the maximum number of goals saved, Nilakanta Sharma won the Player with maximum number of goal assists, Rupinder Pal Singh won the Player with maximum number of defensive tackles and Harmanpreet Singh & Amit Rohidas for Player with maximum interceptions in the midfield.
In the Women’s team, Gurjit Kaur and Vandana Katariya won the Player with maximum number of goals scored, Savita Punia won the Player with the maximum number of goals saved, Rani Rampal and Navneet Kaur jointly won the Player with maximum number of goal assists, Deep Grace Ekka won the Player with maximum number of defensive tackles, and P Sushila Chanu for Player with maximum interceptions in the midfield. Each were awarded Rs 5 lakhs.
President, Indian Olympic Association, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra who has played a key role in the development of Olympic sports and sportspersons and in the revival of hockey in India and the prominence of Hockey around the globe was also felicitated by the Chief Minister. He also felicitated Odia doctor, Col. (Dr). Bibhu Kalyan Nayak who was appointed as the first Indian FIH Medical Officer for Tokyo Olympics and awarded him Rs 5 Lakhs at the ceremony.
Over the last decade, Hockey India has played a pivotal role in building a strong representation for India leading the teams to put up an incredible performance at the Tokyo Olympics and command top positions at the FIH ranking. And for this Chief Minister Patnaik felicitated President, Hockey India, Gyanendro Ningombam, Secretary General, Hockey India, Rajinder Singh, CEO, Hockey India, Elena Norman and the entire Hockey India staff and awarded Rs. 50 Lakhs to the Federation.
President, Hockey India, Gyanendro Ningombam, said, “This is indeed a jubilant time for Indian Hockey with both our men and women’s hockey teams achieving historic results at the Tokyo Olympics.”
“In 2009, when Hockey India was formed, the primary aim of the federation was to bring back the glory days for hockey in the country. This aim could not have been attained but for the unconditional support of Odisha State Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who is himself a passionate lover of the sport,” Ningombam said.
Captain of the national women’s hockey team, Rani, said, “The team and I are very happy to be present here today as we wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the Odisha State Government for supporting our team. Our team is always made to feel so welcome when we come here that Odisha feels very much like the home of Indian hockey now.”
“Everyone knows that Odisha has sponsored and supported the women’s and men’s teams in the last few years, but very few people know that the people of Odisha have been a constant source of motivation and encouragement for our team. Just like Odisha is our home, the people of Odisha are like our own family,” she added.
Captain of the men’s team, Manpreet Singh, shared, “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 behind our success at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. This Bronze Medal may have been won by us as players, but in truth, it equally belongs to India, a gift from the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik whose vision and constant encouragement helped us achieve our dream of winning an Olympic medal after 41 years.”
“He is a pillar of support for each one of us, and this dream wouldn’t be possible to achieve without his guidance and continued support.
Everyone here, has a special love for hockey, and it’s an honour to share that same love with them.”
Earlier in the day, the teams arrived to a rousing welcome at the airport by fans and sportspersons alike. The atmosphere was euphoric with fanfare, celebrations and pride. They were received by Minister for Sports and Youth Services, Tusharkanti Behera, Chairman Odisha Hockey Promotion Council Dilip Tirkey, and Sports and Youth Services Secretary Vineel Krishna.