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New Delhi, April 16 (H.S.). Dilip Tirkey, the former captain of the Indian men’s hockey team, is one of the most loved figures in Indian hockey. Currently serving as the chairman of Odisha Hockey Promotion Council, Tirkey credited Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the men’s and women’s team’s stellar performance in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the Hockey India podcast Hockey Te Charcha.

Tirkey said, “If we look at the success of both men’s and women’s teams in the Tokyo Olympics, a lot of credit for the performance goes to Hockey India and Naveen Patnaik ji along with the players. His vision to build one of the best hockey stadiums in the world in Odisha (Kalinga Stadium) dates back to 2003, and he has left no stone unturned to turn that vision into reality.”

After successfully hosting the 2018 Hockey Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar, Tirkey spoke enthusiastically about the upcoming 2023 Hockey Men’s World Cup, which will be co-hosted in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

He said, “Co-hosting the 2023 World Cup in Rourkela is going to have a huge impact on the people of the region as the region is filled with people who love hockey. Sundergarh district is the ‘hockey hub’ of India, and this event will inspire young children to play hockey at a professional level.”

Tirkey, an Indian player who has played 412 international matches in a 15-year long international career, said, “Hockey has really changed over the years – not just the game and how the players see it, but the spectators as well. Today after many years there is enthusiasm among the people towards hockey. This is not only in India but also abroad. To a large extent, I believe that we owe this change to the vision of Hon’ble Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ji. A few years back, it was unimaginable for Bhuvneshwar to host such a big tournament like the World Cup. Today, the people of the city are crazy about hockey.”

He said, “During some matches of the 2018 Hockey World Cup, there were 300 meters long queues. It is something I never imagined, but I am glad that hockey is finally getting the recognition it deserves.”