NEW DELHI: Following the trend change in the country’s football administration, Indian hockey also has its first player-president, with the former national team captain Dilip Tirkey be elected without opposition to the office of Hockey India (Hello) president.
Tirkey spoke to about his new post presenting new challenges.
The HI elections were scheduled for October 1, but with no contenders for the posts, the names of elected officials without opposition were announced on Thursday.

Bhola Nath Singh, who had also filed his candidacy for president before withdrawing it, will be the federation’s new general secretary.
44-year-old Tirkey, who is India’s most capped international with 412 games, spoke to just hours after he was elected as the new HI president.
excerpts …
Before the sentiment subsided, did you expect to be elected without opposition?
Rakesh Katyal ji and Bhola Nath ji had also presented nominations for the office of president. Thank you so much for supporting me, as they have decided to withdraw their candidacy. Also, all the state hockey bodies thought of me and supported me.
In addition to being a hockey icon, you believe in your active administrative career in government of the Odisha Did it help you win?
The Odisha government and our honorable Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik ji have done a lot for hockey and its infrastructure, such as world-class stadiums, as well as hosting tournaments like the World Cup and conducting training programs. Somewhere I feel that his hockey efforts have been reflected in the way people have supported me.
You have held various official roles in Odisha over the past few years. Do you think that experience will help you lead Hockey India?
Of course. When I was playing and after, I didn’t have a lot of administrative knowledge. But when I entered the system, I became a member of Parliament, then president of the OTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation) and so on, I got to understand things, to know the system. So the experience I gained there will help me as an administrator of Hockey India.

Now you have to see the sport and its growth across India and not just for Odisha. How do you plan to face this challenge?
First of all there is the World Cup (in January 2023), and the Odisha government is already working on it as a host. The state also hosted a memorable World Cup in 2018. The goal is the same this time, to make it a memorable experience for all. For the future, we need to organize the core schedule more so that we can continue to get quality players. Many boys play hockey at the sub-junior and junior levels. Also, (need to strengthen) coaching programs.
Do you also plan to take international hockey to a pan-Indian level so that it isn’t limited to just Odisha, as it has been for the past five to six years?
Wherever there was hockey before, places that have given us legends in the past, there is no longer hockey in some of those places. Punjab still plays a lot of hockey, but there are other places that gave us a lot of players, it doesn’t happen there anymore. We will talk to them (state associations), because promoting sport will be our priority.


(File Pic – TOI Photo)
He currently holds the position of president of the Odisha’s Hockey Promotion Board (OHPC). Will you have to opt out of that post to avoid any conflict of interest?
I will soon be discussing this with lawyers, Hockey India and other officials.
Hockey India has committed, but still basic things like astro-turfs aren’t available in large numbers that would allow basic players to train on grass instead of grass …
In Sundergarh, astro-turfs are installed in 16 blocks. We will definitely request (for the same in other states). As I said, where hockey used to be, we will definitely try to revive it there. An astro-turf is a basic requirement.

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