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900 teams to participate in Odisha's biggest-ever hockey tournament
Nine hundred teams and fifteen thousand players are participating in 'Sundargarh Rural Hockey Olympiad', which is believed to be the biggest ever hockey tournament ever organized. With the motto to boost the rural hockey, the tournament is being organized by both men and women by former Olympian and parliamentarian Dilip Tirkey.

In the tournament whose slogan is ‘Hockey for progress, Hockey for Brotherhood’, the Sundargarh district has been divided into eight zones for the zonal-level matches. The zonal matches are being played currently at eight locations, namely: Rourkela, Sundargarh, Bonai, Rajgangpur, Nuagoan, Kuainrmunda, Lathikata and Subdega.

Two teams will qualify from each zone for the main championship, which will be played on a knock-out basis. The final fight will be held at Biju Pattnaik Stadium at Rourkela in the first week of March this year. The winning team will get Rs 50,000 and the runners-up will get Rs 30,000. Other than that there will be individual prizes like best goalkeeper, best defender and highest scorer.

“The main aim of this event is to encourage and promote the rural hockey players. Everywhere we find national and state level tournaments, but there is very less –scope for rural hockey player to prove themselves. But this rural hockey Olympiad will give them a magnificent platform,” said Dilip Tirkey, the chief patron of the tournament.

Hockey is the most popular sport among the tribal population of Sundargarh. And players like Dilip Tirkey, Ignesh Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Subadra padhan, and many more have represented the nation at various occasions.“Hockey players belong to poor families; they don’t have any scope to show their talent but this will help a lot. And I am very excited to be part of this tournament,” said Biamal Bhukta, a player from Karibati team.

“We invited all the rural teams of 17 blocks of Sundargarh district. So, more than nine hundred teams will participate in this tournament. I think this is the first ever tournament of such kind to be played in Odisha,” said Brahma Mishra, chairman of tournament.

Earlier, the logo of this tournament was unveiled at NIT guest house, Rourkela in the presence of minister of state for Commerce & Transport, Subrat Tarai.

                                                                                   (Filed with inputs from Bijya)

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