The Hockey India national governing body has today (Thursday) signed a major sponsorship deal with the state government of Odisha.
The five-year deal marks the first time that an Indian state has sponsored the national hockey team. An Odisha-branded logo will feature on the front of India’s men’s and women’s national teams as part of the agreement.
Odisha is a major hockey state and its capital city, Bhubaneswar, has staged the Champions Trophy and Hockey World League final in recent years. Bhubaneswar will also host the 2018 edition of the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) men’s World Cup – an event that will be title sponsored by Odisha.
“Hockey in Odisha is more than a sport, it's a way of life, especially in our tribal regions where children learn to walk with hockey sticks,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, according to Indian news agency PTI.
“No wonder Odisha has produced India's finest hockey talent. This is a first where a state government will not just be promoting a sport within its boundaries but will also support and nurture Indian hockey. This is Odisha's gift to the nation.”
Narinder Batra, president of both the FIH and the Indian Olympic Association, has urged the Odisha state government to build a new high-performance centre as part of its agreement with Hockey India.
Batra said: “I would request the Government of Odisha to come up with a high-performance centre for elite athletes. Like Delhi is the capital of India, Bombay the financial capital of the country, Bengaluru the IT capital, for me Bhubaneswar is the sports capital of the country.”