Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After hosting two consecutive World Cups and several other mega events, Odisha has emerged as the epicenter for hockey across the globe. Former India skipper Dilip Tirkey, who is an Odia hockey star, is now serving as the president of Hockey India. Two medalists from Tokyo Olympics-Amit Rohidas and Birendra Lakra are also from the State.

The whole Odisha is now celebrating the glory of hockey as the host of FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023. Amid all the frenzy, there is an unsung hero in the State, who almost pioneered the revolution in the game in the State. He is quietly doing his job of honing the skills and subtle nuances of hockey prospects.

Meet Peter Tirkey from Rasrajpur village in Sundargarh district. Peter was the first hockey player from Odisha to represent India. He represented the Indian side as full back in the Junior Hockey World Cup 1982.

“I am the first player from Odisha to represent India. Dilip was second, but first for India senior,” says 60-year-old Peter.

In the second edition of the Junior Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Peter’s side finished fifth while West Germany emerged champions.

Peter was part of the senior national camps from 1981 to 1984 as well. However, he never made the cut for the senior Indian team. He still regrets not making it to the senior Indian team. He was heartbroken and never returned to the national camp after 1984 despite being called multiple times. He decided to represent Odisha only and he played for the team till 1991.

Peter metamorphosed into a coach the following year. SAIL started a hockey academy in 1992 and the legend joined as its coaching staff. He was part of it until retirement on December 31. He is likely to get an extension as the coach of the academy.

Peter has carved a niche for himself as a coach. He has produced as many as 11 India internationals both in the senior and junior level including Olympic bronze medalist Birendra Lakra.

Peter is ecstatic as Birsa Munda Stadium in his home town is hosting the marquee event like the current edition of the World Cup.

“It’s a great opportunity for the hockey-crazy people of Sundargarh. My wards are learning a lot by watching top-class action directly taking place in front of their eyes in Rourkela,” said the eminent coach.