|(From top) Players of Kalinga Lancers sport the team’s official jersey during unveiling of the mascot Bagha, captains Prabodh Tirkey and Kiel Brown pose with Bagha and at another part of the city, sports personalities stage a rally to demand Bharat Ratna for hockey legend Dhyan Chand in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati and Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 22: With six days to go for Kalinga Lancers to make its debut in the second edition of the Hockey India League (HIL), white tiger Bagha — the team’s official mascot — has unveiled its true colour. For the sake of positive energy, Bagha will don an orange jersey.
Bagha will also have another goal to deliver. As Nadankanan zoo is home to white tigers, the mascot is expected to promote tourism to the state. An event management company based in the city has designed both the jersey and the mascot, which were launched here today.
At the launch, the players wore the newly unveiled jersey, which has the image of the mascot printed on it. The players and Bagha walked the ramp in the company of models at a city hotel.
The jerseys would also have the logos of various sponsors of the team including Indian Oil Corporation, Nalco and Odisha Tourism Development Corporation.
The team’s promoters have so far raised Rs 6 crore through sponsorship. As the second edition of the HIL kicks-off this Saturday and Kalinga Lancers playing their first match in Bhubaneswar on January 28, the organisers have pulled up their socks to ensure a striking inaugural appearance for the team in the tournament.
To put the team in order, the franchise today declared the names of two captains of Kalinga Lancers.
While Odia lad Prabodh Tirkey, the midfielder with 160 national caps, would be the captain for Indian players, Australian defender Kiel Brown, who had played 138 international games, would lead the foreign players. Chief coach Terry Walsh said that the two captains had been selected for better coordination between Indian and foreign players.
The franchise owner Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company, which has been jointly formed by Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, also made it evident that the team would be given ample publicity.
A team official said that they would host a number of promotional events in the run up to the inaugural match to make the event successful. He said that the players would visit schools and malls to promote the event.
“We will rope in Odia cine artists for the opening ceremony of the event on January 28. Radio jingles are being broadcast on FM channels to promote the event,” said Idco chairman-cum-managing director Vishal Dev.
The state government has also asked the promoters to allow around 2,000 schoolchildren to watch the matches scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar free of cost.
The hockey stadium in the city will host five games on January 28, February 1,2, 13 and 14.
Hundreds of sportspersons, including former Indian hockey captain Dillip Tirkey, Olympian Anuradha Biswal and former Indian football captain Shadhanjali Samantray, took part in a rally demanding Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand. Besides, sportspersons, cinestar Somesh Mohanty and other eminent sportspersons also took part.
The rally began from Kalinga Stadium and culminated at the city police headquarters.
A memorandum signed by around 1,200 sportspersons and sports lovers would be submitted to chief minister Naveen Patnaik. They would ask Naveen to apprise the Centre of their demand to confer Bharat Ratna on the legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand.
“He deserves a Bharat Ratna for his remarkable contribution to hockey. He has been considered as the greatest hockey player of all times,” said Tirkey.