Tirkey spoke to TimesofIndia.com about his new position which comes with new challenges.
HI’s elections were due to take place on October 1, but with no candidates for office, the names of the office bearers elected unopposed were announced on Thursday.
Bhola Nath Singh, who had also applied for the post of president before withdrawing it, will be the new general secretary of the federation.
Tirkey, 44, who is India’s most capped international with 412 games, spoke to TimesofIndia.com hours after he was elected HI’s new chairman.
Before the sentiment set in, did you expect to be elected unopposed?
Rakesh Katyal ji and Bhola Nath ji had also submitted candidacies for the position of president. I thank them very much for supporting me, because they have decided to withdraw their candidacy. Plus, every hockey organization in the state thought of me and supported me.
In addition to being a hockey icon, do you believe that your active administrative career in the Odisha Government helped you win?
The Government of Odisha and our Honorable Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ji have done a lot for hockey and its infrastructure like world class stadiums besides hosting tournaments like the World Cup and conducting training programs . Somehow I feel that his efforts for hockey were reflected in the way people supported me.
You have held various official positions in Odisha over the past few years. Do you think this experience will help you lead Hockey India?
Sure. When I was playing and even after, I didn’t have much knowledge of administration. But when I entered the system, became a Member of Parliament, then became the President of OTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation) and so on, I learned to understand things, to know the system. The experience I gained there will therefore help me as an administrator of Hockey India.
Thank you @DrSYQuraishi & @FIH_Hockey for running a smooth election from @TheHockeyIndia. I will make sure Indian ho… https://t.co/eL2nxpkTaz
— Dilip Kumar Tirkey (@DilipTirkey) 1663929112000
You must now see the sport and its growth at the level of all India and not just for Odisha. How do you plan to meet this challenge?
First, there is the World Cup (in January 2023), and the government of Odisha is already working on it as a host. The state also hosted a memorable World Cup in 2018. The goal is the same this time around, to make it a memorable experience for everyone. For the future, we need to organize the grassroots program more in order to continue to have quality players. Many children play hockey at the sub-junior and junior levels. Also, (need to strengthen) coaching programs.
Do you also plan to bring international hockey to a pan-India level so that it is not confined to Odisha as it has been for the past five or six years?
Wherever there used to be hockey, places that gave us legends in the past, there is no more hockey in some of those places. Punjab still plays a lot of hockey but there are other places that used to give us a lot of players, it doesn’t happen there anymore. We are going to talk to them (state associations), because the promotion of sport is going to be our priority.
(File photo – Photo YOU)
You currently hold the position of President of the Odisha Hockey Promotion Council (OHPC). Will you need to relinquish this position to avoid any conflict of interest?
I will soon be in talks about this with the lawyers, Hockey India and other officials.
Hockey India has made efforts, but things as basic as astro-turfs are not available in large numbers which would allow basic players to practice on turf rather than grass…
In Sundergarh, astro-turfs are installed in 16 blocks. We will definitely be asking (for the same in other states). As I said, where there was hockey, we will certainly try to revive it there. An astro-turf is a basic requirement.