Bhubaneswar: Hockey is in the air in the Temple City now. Indian fans and hockey lovers are thronging the Kalinga Stadium to watch their favorite hockey players locking horns with players from seven other nations of the world.
Amidst the huge crowd at the stadium, there are some who travel to each and every venue where the Indian team plays. We are talking about a group of passionate hockey lovers called ‘One Team, One Dream’. They have travelled all around the world together since 2010 covering various important events like the Olympics, Hockey World Cups, Champions Trophies and Commonwealth Games.
“When I was young, I watched hockey fans travelling all around the world to cheer for Indian players. We came together in Delhi in 2010 and started the group. We had only 5-6 members then but now we have more than 20 members from New Zealand, England, Finland etc,” said leader of the group Raja Namdhari.
When asked about the craze of hockey now, Namdhari replied, “After Hockey India League, the people who never came to watch hockey are now coming in big numbers to watch matches live at the stadiums. We can see that in Bhubaneswar where we always have a packed house.”
There are some members in the group who have been visiting hockey stadiums since a long time and have seen many generations of hockey players. Despite living abroad, these fans who have an Indian origin, have now become an integral part of the Indian hockey fraternity.
“I have watched 12 Olympics and 12 World Cups at their venues. I am looking forward to the next World Cup and next Olympics as well to visit and support the Indian team,” said a senior member of the group Baldev Singh from London.
“The crowd in Bhubaneswar is fantastic. I started watching the matches in India at the stadium to cheer for our team since the Champions Trophy held in Chennai,” said Bengaluru based hockey fan Santosh.
Inspired by the ‘One team, one dream’ group, Odia hockey enthusiast Sekhar Chandra Behera started another group for hockey fans in Odisha known as ‘Hockey Lovers Odisha’ along with his friend Avilash Panigrahi. He travels to various places where hockey matches are played in the state and promote these games through Facebook page and Whats App group called ‘Hockey Lovers Odisha’.
“Promoting hockey in social media is my main objective. I am getting very good response from other hockey fans in Odisha and also the hockey players from the state are supporting me in the promotion of the sport,” said Behera.
Team India will be meeting Argentina in their semi-final game in sometime at the Kalinga Stadium and these hockey fans will be out there at the stands to cheer for them in this crucial contest of the prestigious tournament.