India on Thursday scripted history with the Indian men's hockey team securing the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Over the last few hours as congratulations poured in from all quarters, Prime Minister and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had interacted (separately) with the winning team.
Speaking to the team via telephone, Patnaik congratulated the team on their historic win and wishing them the best for their future. "Many congratulations to our hockey team. The whole of India is so excited as well as Odisha of course. We are all behind you and we wish you the very best and we are looking forward to receiving our Indian Olympics hockey team in Bhubaneswar on August 16," he was quoted as saying.
But as a video of the Odisha CM virtually interacting with the players made the rounds on social media, many have pointed out his contributions to Indian hockey go much beyond this.
The Odisha government is presently the sponsor for the Indian hockey teams, having taken over the role from Sahara in February 2018. The name of the state adorns the players' jerseys, and reportedly the deal was estimated to be around Rs. 150 crore.
Over the last few years, the state has also partnered with Hockey India to conduct major hockey tournaments in Bhubaneswar including the Men's World Cup, World League, Pro-League, Olympic qualifiers etc. The only state to sponsor a national team, Odisha also has several hockey players who are part of the Olympic men and women's squads.