With an aim to inspire rural youth to pick up hockey sticks instead of guns, veteran defender Dilip Tirkey is organising one of the biggest rural hockey tournaments and over 1300 teams are expected to participate.
“Biju Patnaik rural hockey tournament will be a unique tournament where more than 1300 teams and 25000 players from the rural belt of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand will exhibit their skills,” Tirkey told PTI Bhasha.
“Vice President Hamid Ansari will inaugurate the event on 10th December in Rourkela and finals will be played in March,” he added.
The total prize money will be around Rs. 30 lakhs and matches will be played at different venues across four months in three states — Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
He said that the main aim behind this tournament is to inspire tribal youth to pick up hockey stick and ensure that they start dreaming again.
“It is terrible to see the youth waste their lives. That is why I decided to organise this tournament. The craze for hockey in this belt is no secret, they just need a proper platform to showcase their talent and we are providing that,” said the BJD member of parliament and three times Olympian.
“As a former Olympian, it is my duty to give it back to the game and the players. I cannot see young boys pick up guns. They need to be armed with hockey sticks so that they can play, get jobs and spend time on the field rather than be brainwashed by Maoist elements,” he said.