The 13th Hockey India Sub Junior Men's National Championship 2023 concluded with Uttar Pradesh Hockey crowned as the undisputed champions after defeating the hosts, Hockey Odisha 7-1.
A month of riveting hockey brought to the fore some of India's finest Men and Women sub-junior players, that revered the opportunity to play in the reputed Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium at Rourkela.
The final of the marquee event boasted an attendance of more than eight thousand people, eager to cheer on the finalists. The high standard of Hockey that unfolded is indicative of the robust ecosystem that is being built at the grassroots level of the game.
States like Odisha have led these efforts, with state-of-the-art infrastructure, experienced coaches and over 22 grassroot training centres to supplement the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High-Performance Centre.
Interestingly, four members of the silver medal-winning Hockey Odisha contingent are products of the grassroots centres.
Head Coach, Lakshmi Narayana highlighted the importance of grassroots development and the value it brings towards expediting talent identification. "A lot of our key players have come from the grassroots program, including our captain Ashis Kumar Toppo and Rohit Kullu, who has been one of the best drag flickers in the tournament. Once they are identified at the grassroots level they can come into the high-performance centres, where their raw talent can be moulded with the best resources at their disposal."
While the efforts towards infrastructure and coaching have been phenomenal, it is essential that there is an avenue for aspiring hockey players to compete, challenge themselves and execute their skillset in a competition. To maximise these efforts the state of Odisha has left no stone unturned in hosting the 13th Sub Junior Men's National Championship at an international standard.
Dilip Tirkey, Hockey India President, expressed his gratitude to the state of Odisha, he said, "We are grateful to the Odisha Government and the Hon'ble Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik for hosting this tournament. Grassroots is vital for the development of any sport. People have turned out in huge numbers to watch this competition and it is great to see them cheer on the players while enjoying the world class stadium, that is the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium."
Sailendra Kumar Jena, Jt. Secretary, Sports & Youth Services Department, Odisha further added, "It has been a privilege to host the 13th Hockey India Sub Juniors National Championship 2023, at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, which is the pride of Rourkela. In association with Hockey India and the Hockey Association of Odisha, we have taken great care to ensure a smooth tournament. We have ensured good field management, accommodation, transport and nutrition for all the athletes." (ANI)