| Prabodh Tirkey (right) and Dilip Tirkey take part in a rally in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Pix: Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 14: “I do feel like a child who did well in his exams, but back home his parents didn’t bother to pat him on his back,” says Prabodh Tirkey the captain of the Indian hockey team.
But Prabodh is no Sachin Tendulkar, neither is he Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Three days after their return here, Prabodh and former captain Dilip Tirkey were felicitated for the first time by NCC officers, who tried to compensate for the state government’s apathy in acknowledging the feat that India beat Korea 7-2 to lift the seventh Asia Cup in Chennai on Sunday.
The government’s lukewarm response prompted commanding officer Squadron Leader R.K. Sathpathy and his cadets honour the heroes. “I believe it’s the society’s collective responsibility to honour players who have made us proud,” conceded Sathpathy.
Sathpathy, along with his team, escorted the stars in an open jeep followed by a motorcade. The motorcade started from the Master Canteen Square and was received by officers and cheering young cadets at the academy campus where the duo were felicitated with aircraft models in a short ceremony.
Echoing the captain, Dilip admitted that it was an “unhappy surprise” when neither the sports department nor any state bureaucrat sent them a communiqué after their win.
Dilip flew back on Monday and was stranded at the airport because of the Orissa bandh. “I thought things would be different when Prabodh returns, but I was wrong,” he rued.
Prabodh arrived at the airport only to find a few reporters and his own family, who welcomed him in the traditional style.
“Even Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal asked the entire team for a suitable time so that he could honour us for our performance. The Orissa government never gave us a welcome,” he added.
Officials at the sports department refused to comment.