Brainchild of former Indian Hockey Team captain and Rajya Sabha member Dilip Tirkey, the Rural Hockey Olympiad in Sundargarh is perhaps the biggest rural hockey championship in the country. While 782 teams from 8 zones of the district participated in the primary round this year, 16 teams walked to the final round played in the Biju Patnaik hockey stadium Rourkela.
Primarily aimed at spotting hockey talents in the district, the Olympiad saw both boys and girls fighting it out at the contest. Slangabahar team of Kuarmunda (A) emerged as Champion in women’s hockey, whereas Joketa of Nuagaon(A) bagged the winning trophy in Men’s league. The Olympiad which concluded on April 14 saw thousands of enthusiastic people turning out daily to enjoy the matches.
Notably, Sundargarh district is considered to be the breeding ground for Indian hockey players in both women and men category. The tribal-dominated district of Odisha has proven its claim by producing around 50 junior and senior international players in both men and women segments.
The youngsters from the district have proved their mettle at the national level tournaments. Among the talented players from the district -Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Peter Tirkey, William Xalxo, Roshan Minz, Amardeep Ekka, Birendra Ekka, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Subhadra Pradhan, Anupa and Binita have played in almost all major senior and junior global championships.
Dilip Tirkey, along with Ignace, Probodh and Kullu, has led India teams. While three among the four have been conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award, two have been honoured with Padmashri Awards also.
According to Dilip Tirkey, the Rural Hockey Olympiad idea had been conceived to nurture and expose talents in rural Sundargarh. “Once the talented players are spotted, it is planned to give them proper training which will help them to chart a bright future for themselves in the field of hockey”, he said.