A turning point for hockey
The Odisha World Cup shows us that India needs to catch up with other countries, says former hockey star Dilip Tirkey.Updated: Dec 18, 2018 11:42 IST
Sundergarh is the cradle for hockey. Kids love playing the game. I remember picking up my father’s hockey stick and starting to play with my siblings. Slowly, I played with other kids, and then someone thought I could play good hockey and that’s how I came up. These are the thoughts that came to my mind when I was watching the finals of the Men’s Hockey World Cup between Belgium and Holland. So much talent in the teams, especially in the Belgian side, that you wonder how every player comes through a system and then finds a place in the national team.
I have spoken to players during the World Cup, met old friends and also been a part of the organising committee that created the World Cup. I have given my inputs and seen how the World Cup was created from scratch. Similarly, players are created. I think the takeaway from the World Cup is that if you can create a world-class event when the state had not ever hosted a World Cup in any sport, creating world-class players should not be an issue for Odisha or for India.
I can speak about Odisha and the kind of talent that is found in places like Sundergarh. I spoke to the legendary Ric Charlesworth, and he, too, agreed that laying the foundation for U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17 would take the game forward and provide competition to players in the younger age groups. We have to provide coaches who understand the game at that level and also know the path to higher levels so players don’t feel out of place when they play with more competitive players.
I hope the Odisha World Cup provides us all with an insight that other countries are moving ahead, and that we need to catch up. I am confident that India was a semi-finalist here. Yes, to reach the last four, one needs to play with power, skill and intensity in all the four quarters like Belgium did in the 4th quarter. They may not have got a goal in the four quarters, but the intent was so strong that Netherlands wilted.
Former players like me have a job to do now. We can’t just think that players will find their way. They have to be guided. Many junior players also saw the World Cup. That is one of the advantages of hosting it. And along with a lot of coaches they would learn a lot.
I am confident that the Odisha World Cup will be a turning point for hockey and sport in Odisha. For a state that remained a back-bencher in sport, we are moving ahead, slowly but surely. In a few years’ time, all the hard work done now will bear fruit.
(This article has been authored by Dilip Tirkey, who played three World Cups for India and was also the captain at the 2004 Athens Olympics)