Kudos to Odisha, But Where Are The Rest?

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Hockey World Cup 2023: Even as we talk about the superb job being done by Odisha, the question arises – what about the rest of the country?

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Hockey World Cup 2023

Rourkela: The FIH Hockey World Cup, once again, will hold our attention as everyone will be hooked to the action, at least till it is on. Odisha once more sees action as the state climbs one more step on the ladder to be one of the most happening venues of international hockey, hosting the second consecutive World Cup, after 2018. The work done by the State Government and the local administration is quite something and with the new Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela adding to the already happening Kalinga Stadium at Bhubaneswar, the 2023 edition of the tournament will be something else.

But even as we talk about the superb job being done by Odisha, the question arises – what about the rest of the country?

The Hockey World Cup has been hosted four times in India, in 1982 in Bombay (now Mumbai) and then after a long hiatus, in 2010 in New Delhi.

But that was 13 years ago and since then, it seems that the onus is on Odisha to keep India on the international hockey map, which really doesn’t reflect well on how the rest of the country deals with this.

There was a time when Punjab, Mumbai and New Delhi had a lot of hockey being played, be it national or international but off late it seems like those days are long gone.

The tendency towards cricket cannot be an excuse surely, though that does at least affect the calendar. Why go far, even the opening ceremony of the 2023 edition and the actual matches had to be separated by one day since India were playing a One-Day International then. The broadcasters evidently have a lot to say in this.

Anyhow, back to the centres of hockey, as they used to be. Punjab was always the fortress, and at even now many of the players in the national sides, men’s or women’s, come from that region, as they do from Jharkhand and Odisha.

Sansarpur in Jalandhar district of Punjab was the hub of hockey with Olympians galore coming from that one village. But never ever did the place become a venue for international hockey, and surely Hockey India and the governments need to be asked why.

Ranchi had some of the most elaborate sports infrastructure, but is hardly ever heard of as a venue for anything apart from cricket.

Delhi’s National Stadium was at one time the headquarter of Indian hockey and with the 1982 Asian Games seeing the first Astro-turf being laid there, things were looking up. But all that ended in 2010.

Mumbai had its centre, and that too is now in the past.

While Odisha needs to be appreciated on the money and passion invested in hockey, it is surely a National responsibility make sure that we get back on top of things soon. A lot of National-level tournaments are held all over India but very few centres have been developed as a truly international hub.

A bronze in the Tokyo Olympics was laudable, but our World Cup record is moderate at best, and so long as all of the action is restricted to just one corner of the country, it will remain so.

As we look forward to seeing the Indian team in action and hope for great success, spreading hockey needs boots on the ground, in all corners of India. That is what should be the next target.




Published Date: January 13, 2023 12:13 PM IST



Updated Date: January 13, 2023 1:01 PM IST





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