The Obaidullah Khan Heritage Hockey Cup began on Wednesday evening at Aishbagh stadium in Bhopal.
Along with eight Rio Olympians, former Olympians also marked their presence in one of the highest prize-money domestic tournaments.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the chief guest while sports minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Cooperative minister Vishaws Sarang, mayor Alok Sharma, MP Alok Sanjar and director sports Upendra Jain were also present on the occasion.
The CM said he wanted to convert the Obaidullah Cup from a domestic to an international tournament and asked authorities to talk with Hockey India in this regard.
Chouhan said the glorious days of hockey will return and MP will play an important role in it. “We lagged behind in hockey after the introduction of astro turf. But in MP, seven new astro turfs will be introduced for players. After that, MP will have 15 astro turfs.”
During the inaugural ceremony, about 500 people including sportspersons performed a dance choreographed by Santosh Shetty in the stadium. Former Olympians Ashok Dhyanchand, Aslam Sher Khan, Jalaluddin Rizvi, M Kaushik and Shaqueel were felicitated.
“I am very excited to play on my home ground. This is a very good tournament for hockey players and a good opportunity for hockey lovers as well,” said BPCL player and national team’s assistant coach Tushar Khandekar.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) team trounced Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL)’s team in the first match by a score of 4-2. ONGC had taken an early lead by scoring a goal nine minutes into the game. The first goal was scored by Gurjinder Singh. In the second half, IOC’s VR Raghunath levelled the score in 38 minutes by converting the penalty corner successfully.
Cash for Olympic medallists cut due to budget constraints
Sports minister Yashodhra Raje Scindia on Wednesday said the prize money for Olympic medallists was cut down to half this time due to budget constraints.
During the London Olympics, the state government had given `1 crore to silver medalists - Vijay Kumar and Sushil Kumar -- and Rs 50 lakh to the bronze medalists. However, after Rio Olympics this year, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced Rs 25 lakh for bronze medalist Sakshi Malik and `50 lakh for silver medalist PV Sindhu.
The budget crisis has affected other affairs. Sports infrastructure is in a bad shape due to this. “We don’t have a good infrastructure to host national games but we are optimistic about development of sports,” the minister said.