As the Indian Women's hockey team scripted history, entering the semifinals of the Olympics for the first time on Monday, many on social media platforms have begun to invoke the Odisha government. For the uninitiated, both the men's and women's teams have entered the semifinals, inching increasingly closer to a medal after a gap of nearly 50 years.
But what does Odisha have to do with this? Well, for one thing, the present Vice-Captain in the Indian men's hockey team, Birendra Lakra, and women's team, Deep Grace Ekka are from Odisha (as are several other top players). And for another, the Odisha government has been the sponsor of the Indian Hockey team, both men and women since 2018.
As per reports from February 2018, Odisha government had taken over the sponsorship of the Indian Hockey teams for the next five years. The name of the state adorns the players jerseys, and reportedly the deal was estimated to be around Rs. 150 crore. With the exact figures unconfirmed, reports had speculated that the amount could be up to three or four times what Sahara (the previous sponsor) had been paying.
Odisha, in partnership with Hockey India, has conducted major hockey tournaments in Bhubaneswar including the Men's World Cup, World League, Pro-League, Olympic qualifiers etc. And so, as India got it's "real life Chak De India moment", many were quick to point out Odisha and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik deserved a heartfelt thank you note.
"Celebrate the joy of two hockey teams in Olympic Semifinals, remember to send a humble thank-you note to Odisha and its CM Naveen Patnaik. For 6 years now, the not-so-rich state has sponsored and nursed both men and women's hockey teams. If only more states were to spend on sport..." read one tweet.
"Much gratitude to the Odisha government for their constant support to the Indian hockey," said another.
"Would be befitting if Hockey brings Odisha's first medal in Olympics," summed up a third.
Take a look at some of the posts:
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