Bhubaneshwar:Hockey stars Dilip Tirkey and Prabodh Tirkey, who were instrumental in India's glorious Asia Cup victory, received a heartfelt reception on the streets of Bhubaneswar on Friday.
They were completely ignored by the government and sports establishments in their home state Orissa.
But the enthusiastic welcome by the young NCC Wing cadets in Bhubaneswar, even in the pouring rain seemed to wash away their sense of hurt.
"It's a rare honour. Their enthusiasm has humbled us," said Dilip Tirkey, Indian Hockey Team.
There were as many as five players from Orissa in the winning team, including captain Prabodh Tirkey. But after the Asia Cup victory there was not a single state government official to receive them at the airport nor did they get any congratulatory messages from the government.
"In the recent past players who have brought glory to the state have been ignored. They deserve a warm welcome. It will inspire them," said Prabodh Tirkey, Captain, Indian Hockey Team.
The Tirkeys, overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of their young fans, tried their best to inspire them and the cadets seemed thrilled to get advice from the homegrown international stars.
"I felt very happy when I greeted them with flowers. It's such a rare honour to be in their company," said a local fan.
While the public craze for cricket is understandable, discrimination by the government against other sportsmen even when they win, can be quite demoralising.