A rarity in Indian sports, Hockey Gangpur has been formed and is run completely by former players. Tirkey, now a BJD MP, is its president, Ignace Tirkey is one of the vice-presidents while Prabodh Tirkey and William Xalco are joint secretaries. India women’s players Jyoti Sunita Kullu (vice-president) and Subadhra Pradhan (joint secretary) are also closely involved in running the association.
Explaining what led to the setting up of the independent body, Barla, one of the founding members of Hockey Gangpur, says, “There was a lot of untapped talent in Sundergarh and Rourkela. The representation of players from this region too was decreasing rapidly. At one point, three or four players in the starting eleven of the national team used to be from these regions. All of us (former players) know the region’s real potential. So we decided to join hands and form this unit with the one-point agenda of giving tribal players a platform to showcase their skills.”
The former players then set about travelling to remote villages looking for talented youngsters, a process that took them nearly six months.
Still, they were unable to form a senior women’s team, and Barla is hopeful it will be assembled before next year’s national championships.
Strong and sturdy with a clinical defence, Hockey Gangpur teams showcase the strengths of players from the area.
While the seniors missed a podium finish after losing to Air India in the third place playoff, the junior men and women teams were unstoppable en route to clinching Division B titles.
After such an bevelled performance the condtion is supposed to be changed by the authorities and give the players opportunity to do their best in future.