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Inset – Naveen Patnaik   

Spotlight On Naveen Patnaik’s Hockey Nurturing As 41-Year Olympic Drought Ends

Every stakeholder in India’s burgeoning hockey community — from the fans, players, the Indian men and women teams, and Hockey India — must doff its hat to the State of Odisha, and its five-time elected Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik. One of the very few tallest politicians in the country, an outlier if it can be said, Patnaik and his government have committed to spend Rs 150 crore on Indian Hockey from 2018 to 2023, which includes the two national teams. All the more, Patnaik is celebrating the men’s team’s bronze medal win at Tokyo, breaking the 41-year jinx, and the women’s team reaching the semi-finals. Odisha had four players in Tokyo, thanks to a plethora of academies in the State. Odisha staged the World Cup Hockey 2018, and it will do so in 2023 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and the Birsa Munda International Stadium in Rourkela. With the Covid-19 affecting normal life, Patnaik may not have been able to stir out of his Naveen Niwas residence often, but over the past fortnight he would have seen India in action in Tokyo. Others like the Sahara Group and a handful of Public Sector Units have supported Indian Hockey, but for demonstrating focused commitment for the development of Indian Hockey, Patnaik stands head and shoulders above the rest.