Diary of a memorable hockey world cup

The Hockey World Cup kicked off on a jubilant note for India with smiling players and coaches after their opening match win over Spain. The ending was anything but happy, with India failing to qualify for the quarter-finals and Graham Reid resigning a day after the team’s campaign ended.

The tournament may not have been a success for India, but off the field, it certainly made an impact.

Here are some personal thoughts on the tournament:

Celebrating hockey, Odisha style

Both Bhubaneswar and Rourkela were well dressed for the World Cup. As both planned cities have wide roads and neatly divided residential sectors, the decorations look really good.

The walls outside the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium are painted with murals of all the team captains of the World Cup. There were also murals celebrating the tribal identity of the area throughout the city.

Now, when you approach the stadium from Rourkela airport, you will see a giant statue of a hockey player in a small park. It had no name. It was not dedicated to any player. Just a tall statue Dedicated to hockey players in the region.

A personal favorite of this writer was a small mural of the legendary Dhyan Chand at the entrance of Rourkela railway station.

Also Read :  Ping An Named World's Most Valuable Insurance Brand for 7th Consecutive Year

Carnival-like atmosphere

Hosting hockey tournaments is not new to Odisha. The state government pulled out all the stops to make the event a success — most importantly keeping the fans in mind.

Adjacent to both the Kalinga and Birsa Munda stadiums are fan parks, which the organizers call Olly’s Land — based on Olly (Olive Ridley sea turtles), the tournament’s official symbol. Ollie’s Land was an entertainment zone for people of all ages: fancy light decorations, events held for children, artists performing music, hockey merchandise for sale and (delicious) local food. Oh, and there was a big screen showing the matches.

The aim was to offer something more to the casual fan besides the game itself. Especially considering how boring it can get on days when a stadium has four games in a row. With Olly Land, the audience had the option to take a break and explore other things during the break. All you needed for entry was the match day ticket.

Special Hockey World Cup train – one of a kind

To help the World Cup go further than ever, Indian Railways announced two special trains: Bhubaneswar and Puri to Rourkela. Dedicated to just one sporting event? It goes above and beyond… it’s something a little special.

Also Read :  China Wins World Team Chess Championship

Fan reaction vindicated the decision: the train was a big hit with fans, at least on match days. In fact, people traveled from Denkanal, Sambalpur, Talcher and Angul even for classification matches in India, which was a delight. Railways have always been the main arteries connecting the hinterlands of this vast country: this time it was brilliantly used to make an old love of India more accessible to its citizens.

The journey to the destination was quite comfortable, though the train timings were as per Indian Railways standards of delay.

The peculiarity of the classification stage

A handful of journalists – three in fact – arrived in Rourkela with the intention of talking to the players and the coach ahead of India’s match against Japan. A pre-match press conference was common for matches in India, but those norms were absent for two days. No press conferences, no interactions, no questions about India getting fired at the crossover stage. Comprehensible? Sure.

Also Read :  AMD is 'undershipping' chips to balance CPU, GPU supply

On the eve of the match, the players left the training ground through the side gate, away from the media. One can assume that the bus outside the training pitch is a decoy.

However, the players were quite the talk on the pitch as they comprehensively beat Japan. Afterwards, Reed and the players spoke to the media.

They spoke well, especially the senior players who showed up were positive. Unlike the start of the tournament though, there were no smiles. Understandable, of course.

A big shout out to the teams off the field

Although the Indian national team did not perform as expected, there were other successful domestic teams around the tournament.

Officials, volunteers, media coordinators, security personnel, housekeeping staff, caterers, drivers and others worked together to execute this World Cup.

Big events like the World Cup can be a tiring experience for everyone involved. It reaches a point where they wait for the tournament to end. There are good days and bad days. Maybe it’s a bit better to realize they’re not alone; That they have the support of their teammates.

Isn’t that the true essence of a team?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button