Rourkela: Vice-President Hamid Ansari today expressed optimism about a very bright future for the game in the country at the inauguration of Biju Patnaik Rural Hockey Championship here.
“The game of hockey has certainly a very bright future. Never ever I had seen such overwhelming response to a tournament and massive gathering of players at a venue of a championship,” Ansari said at the inaugural ceremony at Dilip Tirky Sports Foundation.
Noting that hockey is ingrained deep in the life of the people in this region, the Vice-President said “I am really impressed with the kind of response this tournament has received. The game is not only the soul but has presence in the pani and hawa (surroundings) here.”
“I have met Olympians from time to time but never got the opportunity to meet so many at one place and I am thankful,” he said.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik said hockey has always brought pride to Odisha and the tournament is a new addition.
MP and Olympian Dilip Tirkey spoke about the objective of the tournament.
‘It will not only find talents but will also help in generating interest amongst the youth to follow the game. And above all it will persuade the youth to pick up hockey and not gun,” he said.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister and Odisha’s Minister for Sports Sudam Marandi also spoke on the occasion.
Five Olympians – Michel Kindo, Ashok Kumar, K Subbayah-manager Kalinga Lancers, Ignace Tirky and Birendra Lakra – were present.
Benedict Tirky a former player and organiser said, “such events will definitely help the game.”
Peter Tirky, Coach SAIL Hockey Academy said, “there will be far reaching impact of the tournament on the game.”
The long-winded tournament, to end in next March, has participation of 1458 teams from three states with Odisha having maximum participation followed by Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
The matches will be played at separate venues in their respective states and finally 32 teams will come for the final round at Rourkela.