The Odisha government will sponsor the national men's and women's hockey teams for the next five years, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced at an event in New Delhi on Thursday.
"We are delighted with this association with Indian hockey and we thank Hockey India for giving us this platform. Hockey in Odisha is more than a sport. It's a way of life, especially in tribal regions where children learn to walk with hockey sticks.
"No wonder Odisha has produced India's finest hockey talent. This is a first where a state government will just not be promoting a sport within its boundaries but will also be supporting, nurturing and promoting Indian hockey. This is Odisha's gift to the nation," the Odisha Chief Minister said.
"We would like this partnership to help widen the net for hockey in India and to ensure that all Indians get behind the national sport. We hope that Odisha's association with national hockey coincides with a golden period for the sport. We are looking forward to all the nations playing the hockey World Cup [November 28 to December 16] in Bhubaneswar this year. We extend a warm invite to everyone to see Team India in action," Mr Patnaik added.
The event was attended by both the Indian men's and women's hockey team players, International Hockey Federation (FIH), IOA President Narinder Batra and IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta among other important names. The Odisha government also unveiled its logo that will be on the new jerseys of both the national teams.