Cassian Baliarsingh

Former India Hockey captain and Olympian Dilip Tirkey on Friday was elected Hockey India's president. Tirkey was elected unopposed after two others, who had filed nominations for the top post, withdrew their nominations.

It is pertinent to mention here that Dilip Tirkey holds the Indian record for most international appearances, with 412 caps over a 15-year-long international career.

Hailing the officials and FIH for conducting smooth elections, Tirkey tweeted, “I will ensure that Indian hockey reaches new heights."

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik congratulated Dilip Tirkey on being elected as the President of the Hockey India.

Here are the excerpts of a candid conversation Dilip Tirkey had with OTV correspondent Sibananda Rout:

Correspondent: Many many congratulations Sir! This indeed is a proud moment. You are taking Odisha to new heights. You have become first Odia to be elected Hockey India’s President unopposed. How does it feel? 

Dilip Tirkey: Thank You! This indeed is a moment of pride for me. For the first time, an Odia has achieved this feat and my credit goes to all my fellow Odias and their blessings. I also want to thank all the presidents and secretaries of all the states to have selecting and supporting me. I also want to express my gratitude to the other gentlemen who withdrew their nomination papers and stood by me. I’m also thankful to CM Naveen Patnaik for all the development works and promotions related to hockey. The developments in Odisha has reflected all over India because of which I’m blessed with this position. I will make all efforts to take hockey to new heights by focussing on relevant areas.

Correspondent: The Indian Hockey Team is doing well both at domestic and in international levels. This apart, there are a few things to work in the team. Will it be a challenge to bring changes and make the team invincible? 

Dilip Tirkey: Yes! There will be challenges. But, seeing the development in Indian Hockey Team, we can say that everyone is giving their best. Our team has performed very well in world-class matches. Last year, the men’s Hockey team won Bronze in Olympics and even the women’s hockey team also performed very well. But, there have been few disappointments of late. We are technically going weak somewhere. So, my focus is to go deeply and find out that technical glitch/weakness and work on it. We should also focus majorly on sub-juniors (the future of our Hockey Team). 

Correspondent: Now, that you are in a position to decide the fate of players and select the best. What would be your preferences during player selection? 

Dilip Tirkey: My focus will be to ensure the team gets the best coach and good supporting staff. 
There will be no compromises made. Everything that is best for the team will be given preference. Again, like I said, my main target is to polish the sub-junior hockey players and make them world class. 

Correspondent: Odisha is known for hockey. What are your future plans for the State in regards to development of infrastructures, stadiums, giving chance to real talents and finding undiscovered talents from rural Odisha?

Dilip Tirkey: Odisha government and the Hockey Association of Odisha is leaving no stones unturned to bring out the best. They are focusing stage by stage on fitness, coaching, academics program and doing everything from grassroots. I’m sure, we will bring out quality and best players very soon. 

Correspondent: What is the main focus of the Indian Hockey Team now and how will you fulfil it? 

Dilip Tirkey: Our main focus is the Hockey World Cup now. Similarly, Odisha government is making every effort to make Hockey India program a grand success. We are planning to make the 2023 Hockey World Cup, a memorable match both in India and in International level. There are many such future plans. 

Correspondent: Many talented players are left undiscovered due to lack of support or financial crisis. Is there anything to identify such talents and nurture them to play for India?

Dilip Tirkey: Ok! Not everyone can reach international level or be the best when it comes to sports. The best and quality players will be given enough chances and at the same time, we will also focus on other players and give them equal opportunities. We will try to provide them enough job facilities so that they can have a secure future. Even, Odisha government has created several jobs and given to many Rugby players and other players and this will also be continued in the Future. Everyone giving their best will be given more opportunities. 

Worth mentioning, best known for his penalty corner hit, Dilip was one of the most difficult defenders because of his tight marking skill near goal post. The ex-captain of Indian Hockey Team was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha as one of the three BJD candidates to the Upper House of Indian Parliament.

He was also working as the chairman of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) and is also working as the chairman of Odisha Hockey Promotion Council.

He has been felicitated with the Padma Shri, Arjun Award, Ekalavya Award and Biju Patnaik Sportsperson of the Year Award.