Tirkey spoke to TimesofIndia.com about his new post that comes with new challenges.
The HI elections were due on October 1, but with no contestants for the posts, the names of the office-bearers elected unopposed were announced on Thursday.
Bhola Nath Singh, who had also filed his nomination for the president’s post before withdrawing it, will be the new secretary general of the federation.
The 44-year-old Tirkey, who is the most capped India international with 412 matches, spoke to TimesofIndia.com hours after being elected as the new HI president.
Before the feeling sinks in, did you expect to be elected unopposed?
Rakesh Katyal ji and Bhola Nath ji had also filed nominations for the post of the president. I thank them so much for supporting me, as they decided to withdraw their candidature. Also, all state hockey bodies thought about me and supported me.
Besides being a hockey icon, do you believe your active administrative career in the Odisha government helped you in winning?
Odisha government and our honourable Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ji has been doing a lot for hockey and its infrastructure, like world class stadiums besides hosting tournaments like the World Cup and conducting coaching programmes. Somewhere I feel his efforts for hockey have reflected in the way people have supported me.
You have been in various official roles in Odisha over the past few years. Do you think that experience will help you in leading Hockey India?
Of course. When I used to play and even after that, I didn’t have much knowledge about administration. But when I came into the system, became a Member of Parliament, then OTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation) chairman and so on, I got to understand things, got to know the system. So the experience I gained there will help me as a Hockey India administrator.
Thanks @DrSYQuraishi & @FIH_Hockey for conducting smooth elections of @TheHockeyIndia. I will ensure that Indian ho… https://t.co/eL2nxpkTaz
— Dilip Kumar Tirkey (@DilipTirkey) 1663929112000
You need to now view the sport and its growth at an all-India level and not just for Odisha. How do you plan to approach that challenge?
First of all, there is the World Cup (in January 2023), and the Odisha government is already working on it as the host. The state hosted a memorable World Cup in 2018 as well. The objective is the same this time, to make it a memorable experience for all. For the future, we need to organize the grassroot programme more so that we keep getting quality players. A lot of kids are playing hockey at the sub-junior and junior level. Also, (need to strengthen) coaching programmes.
Do you also plan to take international hockey to a pan-India level so that it’s not just limited to Odisha, like it has been over the past five-six years?
Wherever there was hockey before, places that have given us legends in the past, there is no hockey anymore at 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’s not happening there anymore. We will talk to them (state associations), as promoting the sport is going to be our priority.
(File Pic – TOI Photo)
You currently hold the position of chairman of the Odisha Hockey Promotion Council (OHPC). Will you need to relinquish that post to avoid any conflict of interest?
I will soon be in talks regarding that with the lawyers, Hockey India and other officials.
Hockey India has been putting in the efforts, but still things as basic as astro-turfs are not available in large numbers that would allow grassroot players to train on turf instead of grass…
In Sundergarh, astro-turfs are being installed in 16 blocks. We will definitely request (for the same in other states). As I said, where there used to be hockey, we will definitely try to revive it there. An astro-turf is a basic requirement.