The Odisha government on Thursday announced that the state will sponsor the national hockey teams - men's and women's - for the next five years. This is the first time that a state will sponsor a national hockey team. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled the logo, which is a summation of the state, which will don the new jerseys of men's and women's teams. The launch in New Delhi was also attended by Team India players, FIH and Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Dhruv Batra as well as legends of Indian Hockey including Dilip Tirkey, Dhanraj Pillay and Viren Rasquinha.
"We are delighted at this association with Indian hockey and we thank Hockey India to have given us this platform. Hockey in Odisha is more than a sport. It's a way of life, especially in our tribal regions, where children learn to walk with hockey sticks," CM Patnaik said.
"No wonder Odisha has produced India's finest hockey talent. This is a first time a state government will not just be promoting a sport within its boundaries but will support and nurture the Indian hockey teams. This is Odisha's gift to the nation," he further added.
Odisha has produced hockey greats like Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey and Lazarus Barla. Odisha players now in the team include Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey and Namita Toppo.
"We would like this association to help widen the net for hockey in India and to ensure that all Indians get behind the national sports," said the Chief Minister.
Mariamma Koshy, President, Hockey India, said: "We are committed to building and ushering Indian Hockey into a new era, which begins with the team gearing up for the 2018 Hockey World Cup. We are delighted to associate with Odisha government."
(With IANS inputs)