Something to Hold On to: Dilip Tirkey on India’s Love of Achievement in Tokyo and the Odisha Hockey Revolution | Tokyo Olympics News

Something to Hold On to: Dilip Tirkey on India’s Love of Achievement in Tokyo and the Odisha Hockey Revolution |  Tokyo Olympics News
BHUBANESHWAR: Dilip Tirkey struggles to find the words. English or Hindi, it doesn’t matter. Never mind you can probably speak your mind. It probably doesn’t matter either that he’s from Odisha and that Indian hockey is enjoying the glory of success, which is largely the result of his state’s contribution. Many of those things don’t matter.
It is quite noticeable that he is struggling to get excited. You want to say something that conveys how proud and happy you are for Indian hockey; how proud he is that Odisha supports Indian hockey. How proud he is as a former player and captain of India. How proud you are right now. You are looking for the perfect way to get excited.
In that, fight. He cries, smiles, laughs, thinks, and sometimes just goes silent. He keeps struggling to find words that, he thinks, if he transmits them, will help people understand.
“Now we have something to hold on to,” he says in Hindi, joining words to form a sentence. That phrase is pure emotion. (Okay, just talk. I’ll translate, I say). “We have something to hold on to.”
“We” is not Odisha and her Chief Minister, neither I nor Tirkey; not him and the hockey frat. “We”, he feels the need to convey, is “India”. It is the Indian jersey that he wore with pride for 15 long years, played 412 matches and won, among other accolades, a gold at the Asian Games.
There is a window that adorns his office at the Odisha High Performance Center for hockey at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. Right outside that window, you can see a booth that has ‘ODISHA’ painted in white on the seats that form a sea of ​​red.
Dilip Bhai, woh ‘I’ ke saamne khade ho jao (Dilip, brother, stand before that ‘me’, “says the photographer. The ‘me’ in Odisha. He smiles. Yes, that will look good. He will convey in all sincerity the Odisha he wants to convey.

Dilip Tirkey. Image Credit: Sanjib Das (TOI Photo)
Indian hockey has “done well”. People will ‘get it’. He is proud. You don’t have to think in words. They will know now.
“Let me remind you that in 1982, India lost the Asian Games final 1-7 to Pakistan. On that day, the whole country was crying. And today, after 41 years, the whole country is smiling. In my opinion, this it is progress “. . We needed a victory. By victory, I mean, a victory of some consequence. A medal, a podium, something to hold on to. We have it now, “he says. He is just excited. The words flow. His mind is returning to those years of struggle and despair. The pain, suppressed for years, is healing. 1-7 to Pakistan had hurt.
“This bronze medal has given India the much-needed confidence that we can survive and win in modern hockey as well,” he says.

Dilip Tirkey. Image Credit: Sanjib Das (TOI Photo)
Two things are on the top of his mind. India’s long struggle to “belong” and Odisha’s love of the game and “want to belong”. Both, in Tirkey’s view, have reached a turning point.
“In 2018, when Odisha hosted the hockey world cup, few would have guessed it was just the beginning of a wonderful journey. I remember you couldn’t get match tickets because that was the kind of rush. The ticket line would be. 300 to 400 meters long. I hadn’t seen that happen in India in a long time, “he recalls.
It was a time when the state was about to start investing in Indian hockey. It was in large part the result of the region’s association with sport, Sundergarh’s rich legacy, and in part due to the Chief Minister’s passion. Naveen Patnaik had been a hockey goalie during his days at Doon, where he was a classmate, among others, of the incorrigible Sanjay Gandhi. Mick Jagger and Jacqueline Kennedy, for the record, are the ‘guys’ I used to hang out with before heading back to India in the late’ 90s. He’s the son of the legendary Biju Patnaik.

Dilip Tirkey. Image Credit: Sanjib Das (TOI Photo)
Odisha loves him and so does Tirkey, given the state’s generosity. Heck, so does Indian hockey.
For those who know Patnaik insist, “read a little Gabriel García Márquez, Freud, Keats and Blake, before going to him.” Fiction, philosophy or life, Patnaik is known to have a “taste” for good things.
The state that this Chief Minister has ruled for more than two decades, with absolute authority, is full of tribes. One sport that tribal people know better than any other is hockey. Tirkey is part of that crowd. He loves sports and he loves the state. The state loves Patnaik. There is union. Left in, right out, goal.
“I would like to particularly thank our Chief Minister for supporting the game in such an amazing way. Recently, there was a time when Indian hockey was going through its share of struggles. The sponsors were not coming, the ecosystem needed to be sustained and that. it wasn’t like that. ” It was then that Shri Naveen Patnaik stepped forward, not just as a sponsor but as a guiding light. Odisha’s World Cup ensured that the Indian hockey craze, which had been buried for multiple reasons for so many years, has returned, “says Tirkey.
For years, he rightly points out, young people have tried hard. The authorities have been doing their part. Sponsors have existed. “So there is no question that hockey as a sport has been very much loved. What has been missed, I think, is something you want to hold on to.”

Dilip Tirkey. Image Credit: Sanjib Das (TOI Photo)
‘Hold on to …’ is the story. Hold on to this achievement.
“There has been this prevailing doubt for more than two decades if we will ever come close to winning an Olympic medal again. If we ever belong to the space we once ruled. That doubt has been cleared now. After a long time, even if it is. momentarily, a wave of happiness has swept across this country. This has happened after a long time … So obviously it’s not going to go away quickly, “he says.
Patience is what Tirkey has held onto for a long time. That patience, although he doesn’t really say it, but it seems like it has been playing in his mind, it has paid off.
“We have lost in cricket too, right? But interest levels never waned. Why? Because the sport has enjoyed the pan-Indian support system on all fronts, be it corporate, political, fanatic, sponsors, stars of cinema. … everyone has supported the sport and expressed their opinion on it. Hockey needed that. That is what happened in Odisha. The top politician of the state came forward to support it. Corporate India decided to come forward because the Minister himself Principal wanted to attend. There was an effort to get some star power on board (Shahrukh Khan attended the World Cup). The fans ran to the ground. The event was organized very well. These are things that matter. We can agree or no. But I feel like they matter, “he says.
He would know. How many in this country know of Sundargarh’s contribution to Indian hockey? Shahrukh Khan might be able to pass it on, if he tweets it to his 41.odd million followers on Twitter. It is important.

Dilip Tirkey. Image Credit: Sanjib Das (TOI Photo)
“You see … Indian hockey doesn’t just need a sponsor. You, come on, cut a check and think you’ve done your part, that’s not enough. The sponsor should also be a mentor, guide and benefactor in In more than one sense. Only then will the journey be fruitful. Look at the Odisha-Naval Tata High Performance Center for Hockey here. Look at how they are feeding the ecosystem. Sponsorship alone cannot accomplish this, “says Tirkey.
There is advanced training, guidance from good coaches, all the amenities that any growing athlete needs, such as biomechanics, rehab centers, swimming pools, running parks, artificial turf, state-of-the-art gyms. Dutch hockey legend Floris Jan Bovelander, who was part of the Atlanta gold medal-winning team in 1996, has created the training manual.
“The government is laying 17 astro-grass with synthetic sand in the region. What it will do is provide children with the basic amenities to follow the game from the beginning. If it gives children the opportunity to play on astro-grass at at a very young age, look at the benefits … they begin to learn the right way, there is a greater enthusiasm to play, you are growing within the parameters that define modern hockey. The benefits are immense. There is a huge difference between running in a normal field and running on an astro-grass. The latter can really put an athlete’s stamina to the test. In fact, if you look at it, this is one of the main reasons why Indian hockey suffered for years during the last 20 to 30 years. There was a lot of mismatch between our love of the game and what we were doing to earn that love, “says Tirkey.
He is right. Wherever you are in this country right now, and not Odisha, think about where you are closest to an astro-grass with a stick and start playing.

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