After many years, the Indian hockey teams have a new jersey sponsor. And, interestingly, the new sponsor is not a corporate house, but a state government—Orissa. It’s a ‘first’ in the annals of Indian hockey, as no state government has ever sponsored the national hockey team. Orissa sports ministry officials, at the announcement made by Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in New Delhi this week, even insisted that no state has ever sponsored the national team of any sport in the country.
The five-year sponsorship deal encompasses all the Indian hockey teams—men, women, junior boys and junior girls. Orissa replaces the long-standing Sahara India on the jerseys of Indian stick wielders. It now reads “Odisha, India’s best kept secret”. A lot of thought has gone into the accompanying logo—at the centre is the famous Konark Wheel, a symbol of progress and empowerment. The four other segments in the logo show a rising sun, the endangered Olive Ridley turtles, the Odissi dance form and a player dribbling a ball with a hockey stick. During this period India would compete in various elite tournaments; the top being the 16-nation men’s World Cup scheduled to take place from November 28-December 16 in Bhubaneswar. Orissa is also the title sponsor of the 2018 World Cup.
“We are delighted at this association with Indian hockey. In Orissa it is more than a sport; it’s a way of life, especially in our tribal regions, where children learn to walk with hockey sticks. No wonder, Orissa has produced India’s finest hockey talent,” says Patnaik. The CM was referring to greats like Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey and Lazarus Barla, who have represented India in the past, and the current crop that includes Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey and Namita Toppo.