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Goat Championship- Where Odisha’s Hockey Cradle Sports A ‘Khasi’ Award

Sundergarh: Odisha has produced some of the finest hockey players who not only left footprints at the international level, but went on to lead the national side in major tournaments. Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Prabodh Tirkey, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Sunita Lakra, Anupa Barla, Binita Toppo, Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey and many others proved champions in the field game. And it is these players who provide a ‘spike’ to the dreams of thousands in Odisha and help them chase the spherical hard plastic in the grass territory.

When it comes to the intent-level, the decade-old Kandey Lakra Memorial Hockey Tournament in Sundergarh, tagged as the epicentre of hockey in Odisha, is one of its kinds because of two things. First, comprising tribal players, the tournament sees participation of around 48 teams. Second, those who emerge as the champions are given ‘khasi’, a goat, as first prize instead of cash reward or trophy.

The fields at Dudukabahal in Rajgangpur block lack grass cover with pebbles scattered all over, but even the worst of the conditions failed to dampen the spirits of the players and the spectators.

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This year, the finale face-off was between Kukuda and Ranibandha team and the former won by 1-0. The most-awaited moment for all was the prize distribution ceremony when team Kukuda was handed over a ‘Khasi’ by the organising committee. The closing ceremony is again a crowd puller as singing and dancing expedition by villagers is said to be the fun part of this unique festival.

Not to forget, Sundergarh has given birth to as many as 60 players who have represented India at the international level.

“Khasi being presented to the winners as first prize is a part of our culture. We will try to uphold the tradition even for the coming years. But we haven’t received any external support so far. We want the government to help us financially so that we could improve the condition of the fields where emerging players are practicing or such tournaments are held,” said Jojjas Kujuru, a member of the organising committee.

The locals cheer in unison – Long Live, Goat Championship.

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