Hockey fever has gripped the entire state of Odisha after the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 got off to a glittering start with performances by top stars Salman Khan and AR Rahman at the inaugural ceremony held at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. The sport has also cast its spell on children who have been thronging sports goods’ shops to buy hockey sticks and other hockey essentials.
Orissa POST spoke to some teenage hockey enthusiasts to gauge their mood.
Cuttack based Anshuman Samantaray, a Class VIII student of Saraswati Sishu Vidya Mandira, said, “I like cricket, but I find hockey more exciting. The one-hour-long game is more thrilling than any other game. The suspense over the result continues till the last minute of the game. The World Cup matches are even more fascinating. I watched a Hockey World Cup match for the first time Thursday and it was an unforgettable experience. It was an Argentina-Spain match. With growing interest in hockey, coaching will soon start in our school too. I wish the sport is given the status of national game in India.”
Adyasha Choudhury, a Class VI student of DAV Public School, Kalinganagar of Bhubaneswar, said, “It’s true that cricket has a huge fan base. However, with the World Cup being held in the city, hockey has now become my favourite sport. Though I missed the opportunity to be at the colourful inaugural ceremony, I will watch a match with my father Sunday.”
Adyasha added, “The popularity of hockey is increasing by leaps and bounds. Recently, four Odia girls were part of the Indian World Cup Hockey team. I was very impressed by that. I have already asked my parents to let me play hockey.”
Muktikant Mishra, a Class X student of St Xavier High School, said, “Hockey has never got its due recognition in our country. I grew up watching and loving cricket. However, I am fortunate that my family also follows sports such as hockey, tennis and football. Though I watch hockey occasionally, my interest in the sport grew after our state decided to host the Men’s World Cup, 2018. I was glued to the television during the inaugural ceremony. I feel hockey should be promoted more so that many more youngsters will take interest in the game. I just hope India wins the Cup and scripts history on Odisha soil.”
Jayshree Das, a Class X student of Saint Joseph Convent School, Sambalpur, says, “I will be appearing for my Class X board examination soon, and my parents have disconnected the television cable so that I can concentrate on my studies. After I came to know that Odisha is going to host the Men’s Hockey World Cup, I could not resist watching the opening ceremony. My father allowed me to watch the event which was mind-blowing. Later, I spent hours catching up on the history of our team and its performances. After several requests, my father has allowed me to watch hockey matches featuring the Indian team. I find hockey more interesting than cricket which is a time-consuming sport. As an Indian, I will be cheering for the national team hoping they win this edition of the World Cup.”