Tokyo Olympics: Naveen Patnaik congratulates women’s hockey team for putting up a good show
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday talked to Indian women’s hockey team that lost to Great Britain putting an end to the country’s bronze medal hope in the event.
A great lover and patron of the game Naveen praised the efforts of the team and congratulated it for putting up a good show. He said the team might have lost the game but it won hearts. He assured full support to the team in future.
“Ladkeine apne bahut mehnat kiya…. Bahut accha khela tha. Apne game haare geya par hammara dil jeet liya. Appa sabko badhai hoo kyunki apne eekdam mehnat kiyee. Aap 17th ko a rahein hain, phir milenga. Badhai detaa hu. (Girls you worked really hard. You played well and lost. But you won our hearts. Congratulations to all of you as you worked hard. All of you are coming on August 17. We will meet then. Congratulation to all of you,” Naveen said while speaking to the team during a video-aided interaction from his residence in Bhubaneswar.
Later Naveen tweeted, “Congratulation Indian Women’s Hockey Team for putting up a brave fight against Great Britain at Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Keep your fighting spirit up and keep inspiring. Wish you all the very best for future.”
Congratulate Indian Women's Hockey Team for putting up a brave fight against Great Britain at #Tokyo2020. Keep your fighting spirit up and keep inspiring. Wish you all the very best for future. #Cheer4India#womenhockeyindia— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) August 6, 2021
Speaking on behalf of the team its captain Rani Rampal said that the players were grateful to the chief minister and the Odisha government for their support to Indian hockey.
“Odisha government has helped us a lot in this journey. Odisha has turned into a sports hub- so many international games you have hosted…. Odisha government is sponsoring our team… you have a great role in this journey of ours. You have encouraged and motivated the team,” said Rampal.
Odisha is the official sponsor of both the men’s and women’s team, the five-year sponsorship contract having been signed in 2018. Odisha is planning a grand welcome for the women’s hockey team when the players arrive here on August 17, said official sources.
Dilip Tirkey, former Indian hockey team captain, also turned emotional.
“The women’s hockey team put up an excellent show in all the matches at the Tokyo Olympics. They also played well today. There was a lot of improvement in their game but we missed some open field goals today. It was heartbreak for the team as a yellow and a green card shown by the referee in the second half meant India played at least for seven minutes with only 10 players. That gave Great Britain an edge. The most heartbreaking was the sight of women players breaking down on the ground with disappointment writ large on their faces,” said Dilip. The budding hockey players watching the game at the Kalinga Stadium here were also crestfallen and so were the coaches.
Lucela Ekka, who had coached Deep Grace Ekka, the Odia player in the Indian team, appeared to be lost for words. “There is an emotional bonding between players and coaches. Deep Grace was under my tutelage for five years from 2007 to 2012. At that time, she was only 13. I considered her as my daughter. I haven’t had a sip of water after India women lost today’s game. Luck did not favour us,” said Ekka.
Ekka, who played hockey at the national level in the 1990s, said: “I was unable before the match as everyone was tense. We desperately wanted India to win a medal but luck was not in our favour today. I can imagine the state of mind of the players. Such opportunities don’t come again and again. I am thinking of sending a WhatsApp message to Deep Grace advising her not to lose heart.”
“We were almost certain that India will win. They played well in the first half but lost the momentum later on. It’s a game and it has to be decided within the allotted time. But we are proud that our team played well,” said one of the inmates of the Kalinga Stadium.