Orissa felicitates Indian hockey stars

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The reception given to six Indian hockey stars from Orissa, has come as a much needed shot in the arm for the hockey players.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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The grand reception given to six Indian men and women hockey stars from Orissa by the state government in Bhubaneswar, has come as a much needed shot in the arm for the hockey players, as the players are often sidelined despite making it big internationally. Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey, his brother Prabodh Tirkey, as well as Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Subhadra Pradhan and Anarita Kerketta had all played a big role in the Indian victories. The Tirkey trio including captain Dilip Tirkey and Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Vice Captain of the women's team received a rousing welcome on Monday at the felicitation. "It's a great feeling to know that hockey has such wide fan following in Orissa. Me and my fellow players have reason to feel happy about it," said Tirkey. India emerged champions in both men's and women's hockey in the recently concluded Afro-Asian Games in Hyderabad. The women players, however, say they needed to work harder. "We need to improve on a number of things, like making the best of our shortcomings," said Jyoti Sunita Kullu. "We think we have to work harder if we wish to be in the top slot," said Anita Kerketta of the Indian women's hockey team. The cavalcade that piloted the players made brief stopovers at a number of schools in the city and the students were thrilled to have met and shaken hands with the international hockey stars from their own state. "We are so happy that they came and cheered us up. We all look upto them as our role models," said a student of DAV Public school. All the six players hail from one district Sundargarh, which has produced a number of top Indian hockey stars. But with the craze for cricket overshadowing all other games, the hockey stars have remained largely outside the media gaze for a long time. Not for long though, going by the kind of fan following they now seem to be attracting.

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