The Odisha model of sporting excellence - Hindustan Times
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The Odisha model of sporting excellence

ByHT Editorial
Aug 03, 2021 06:24 PM IST

With chief minister Naveen Patnaik taking the lead, Odisha has been the main sponsor of Indian hockey teams (both men and women, both senior and junior) in recent years. And this is now paying dividends

For India, the big takeaway from the Tokyo Olympics is the return of hockey to national consciousness. The men’s team lost in the semi-finals on Tuesday, but remains in contention for a bronze. The women’s team will compete in the semi-finals on Wednesday, after having entered the final four for the first time in history. But behind this success lies what can be called the Odisha model. With chief minister Naveen Patnaik taking the lead, Odisha has been the main sponsor of Indian hockey teams (both men and women, both senior and junior) in recent years. It has provided funds, infrastructure, facilities, and hosted global tournaments in a bid to recapture the special place Indian hockey had in world sport. And this is now paying dividends.

Indian players celebrate their victory against Australia during the women's field hockey quarterfinal match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Monday. (PTI) PREMIUM
Indian players celebrate their victory against Australia during the women's field hockey quarterfinal match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, Monday. (PTI)

Also Read | Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, hockey and the legacy that he could be building

This is a remarkable example of a state taking ownership of a loved sport and helping turn it around by focusing on excellence. And it is an example for other states to follow. Odisha isn’t the richest or most developed of states — yet, with pure political will, it was able to find resources for hockey. If all — or even a set of ten — Indian states picked a sport each, made the state the hub for sport infrastructure, and provided the financial resources to be able to equip teams to compete on the world stage, India’s rather dismal record — including in the current Olympics if one goes by the overall tally of medals — could well change.

This will also strengthen national integration — all players from across the country will find a new home. It will add to the brand and image of the host state; Odisha’s association with hockey now is an example. It will even help the federal discourse — states will feel empowered to take the initiative and lead the way. The Odisha model of State-supported sporting excellence is worth replicating.

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