Odisha’s Chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s recent announcement to sponsor Indian hockey for 10 more years has been welcomed not only by the players, but the hockey fraternity in the state as well.

As the state government felicitated the hockey stars for their spectacular performance at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, Naveen announced the decision to sponsor both men’s and women’s teams for another 10 years, extending the partnership beyond 2023.

Each player was given a cash award of ₹10 lakh at the felicitation ceremony. Patnaik also declared cash reward of ₹5 lakh for each support staff of the two teams.

The Odisha government has been the official sponsor of the Indian hockey teams since 2018.

This was historic for Indian hockey as the men’s team won a medal at the Tokyo Olympics after a gap of 41 years, while the women finished fourth in the Games.

India dominated the world hockey scene as hockey wizard Dhyan Chand led the national team to three successive Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. But after the defeat in the 1980 Moscow Olympic finals, the game lost much of its popularity in India. Odisha helped give the game a much-needed push starting with the Champions Trophy hockey tournament in 2014.

“The teams have scripted history with their brilliant performance at the Tokyo Olympics,” the chief minister said. “”You made us all so proud with your spirited fight at Tokyo. These are deeply emotional moments for India to witness the revival of Indian Hockey.”

Patnaik said, “We, in Odisha, are elated that our partnership with Hockey India has led to this great achievement for the country. I believe Odisha and hockey are destined to become synonymous. We will continue our partnership with Hockey India. Odisha will support the Indian hockey teams for 10 more years. This will herald a new era of Indian Hockey and bring back the glory to the nation.”

Both teams presented Patnaik with framed jerseys autographed by all the players as a token of appreciation.

Patnaik gave away 13 other awards and felicitated Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Dhruv Batra.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaikji and the people of Odisha for showing their love and affection for the sport of hockey and helping our teams achieve the Olympic dream for India,” Batra said at the event.

Rishabh Jaiswal, who runs Sporting Ethos, a sports science and medicine institute in New Delhi, said Odisha’s government’s sponsorship of games including hockey was a key element in creating a healthy sports ecosystem in the country.

“The Odisha government deserves a lot of credit for the rise of an Indian hockey team over the last 5 years. The Naveen Patnaik government’s public-private partnership for sports is a model for all states to follow,” said Jaiswal.

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