Bhubaneswar: In what could possibly trigger a war of words between Odisha and the Centre, Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Thursday said we don't need official declaration to make hockey the national game.
Rathore’s statements came a day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on June 20 shot a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking steps to officially notify Hockey as the national game of the country.
In an interview to ANI, Rathore stated, “For loving sports & hockey, we don't need official proclamation that now its national sports & let's start loving it. Even in terms of facilities, hockey is one of the priority sports for our country.”
The Union Minister further stated that “I leave this to all those people who love this sport whether they would like this to be officially announced for their love or we would still continue loving it even if it's unofficial.”
Earlier, Patnaik in his letter to PM Modi had expressed shock as Hockey has never been notified as the ‘true National Game of India’ - a fact which he came across while reviewing preparations for the upcoming World Cup scheduled to be played at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Patnaik said Hockey is hugely popular in the country both in rural and urban areas and is loved across different strata of society and regions. “The game is a way of life in the tribal areas of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand,” Patnaik wrote in the letter.
Noting that India has left a remarkable legacy in the game, Patnaik highlighted how the country lifted gold medals one after other in the face of British colonisation prior to 1947 and how the game’s presence in international sports arena became a part of the Indian psyche.
Extending support to Naveen’s demand, international hockey player and former MP Dilip Tirkey today said, “India has won maximum gold from hockey and the country got recognition in the world stage due to the sport.”
(Photo Source: Money Control)