Newly elected Hockey India President and Olympian Dilip Tirkey is confident that the 36th National Games will unearth several new talented players.
“Indian hockey is in revival mode. Youngsters are taking it in large numbers once again and the National Games could well give the final push that the sport needs,” Tirkey said.
“As only the top eight men’s and women’s teams will be in competition, hockey will be of the highest quality. Young players can showcase their talent and hope to get into national reckoning,” he stated, suggesting that the selectors would be in attendance.
Hockey action will begin in Rajkot on October 2.
Speaking of his own elevation in Indian hockey, Tirkey accepted that it was huge honour. “It is really an honour to lead a body that has such a rich history. I’m happy that the men’s team had won bronze the in the Tokyo Olympics and hope to give the necessary boost to the sport. We have to look for ways to raise our game,” the 44-year-old said.
Tirkey’s big goal is to promote hockey in a big way where the game was once very popular. “States like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and cities like Mumbai and Bhopal are crucial. I will go to these places and look to develop the game from the grassroots level. We need more artificial turfs in these places to groom talent,” he pointed out.
Regarded as one of world hockey’s finest defenders during his playing days, the HI chief understands the need for drag-flick specialists and brave goalkeepers. “Modern hockey is all about penalty corners. We have to unearth and groom specialists who can score off penalty corners and a good set of goalkeepers,” he said.
Tirkey revealed that he also plans to revive Hockey India League, last played in 2017. “It is a very important tournament. We will look for an international window and will have talks with FIH officials on this.”
Tirkey thanked hockey officials and the Odisha Government for supporting him in the elections. “As a player, I worked hard and represented the country in the Olympics and other major international tournaments. Now, I have been entrusted with a new challenge. There are a lot of expectations and my immediate priority is the World Cup in Odisha from January 13 next year,” he said.