Bhubaneswar, June 21: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to officially recognise hockey as the national game of India.
“I am sure you will agree with the crores of hockey-loving fans of our country that hockey truly deserves to be notified as our national game.
“This will be a fitting tribute to the great hockey players who have made our country proud. It will also inspire our future generations,” he said in a letter to Modi.
Odisha will be hosting the Men’s Hockey World Cup scheduled to be held in November-December this year.
While hockey enjoys the status of the unofficial national game of India, it has never been officially declared such.
“While reviewing preparations for the Odisha Hockey World Cup 2018, I was greatly surprised to learn that the sport we have always loved as our national game has never been officially notified,” said Patnaik.
Noting that for any country, winning an Olympic gold medal is a proud moment, he said: “What makes it more glorious is to hear the national anthem being played on the global stage, while the country’s flag goes up.”
“In 1948 as a new-born nation, India witnessed this glory in London when the national hockey team won the Olympic gold medal. A nation of 33 crore rejoiced the gold was won in London by defeating Great Britain. In fact, prior to 1947, Great Britain avoided playing against India for many years fearing embarrassment to lose against its colony. It was perhaps poetic justice that young and aspirational India won against its former colonizer in London.
“Till the 1980s, India’s presence in the international sports arena was marked by its brilliance in hockey. Crores of Indians rejoiced every time our hockey Team became victorious and our National Anthem was played. Hockey became part of the Indian psyche,” he said in the letter.
Patnaik noted that the game is hugely popular “across different strata of society and regions” and “cutting across the rural urban divide”.
“In the tribal areas of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, hockey is a way of life. In fact, in a first of its kind, the state of Odisha is sponsoring the national hockey team for the next five years,” he wrote.