For Loving Hockey, We Don't Need...: Centre Rebuts Odisha Chief Minister

Naveen Patnaik has written a letter to Prime Minister Modi, urging him to officially recognise hockey as the national sport of India.

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For Loving Hockey, We Don't Need...: Centre Rebuts Odisha Chief Minister

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in the Modi government.


New Delhi:  There was no need for an "official proclamation to love hockey", Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said, reacting to  Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's letter to make the game India's national sport.

"For loving sports and hockey, we do not need official proclamation. (Like) now (that) it is (our) national sport so let us start loving it. Even in terms of facilities, hockey is one of the priority sports of our country," Mr Rathore was quoted by news agency ANI.

Mr Patnaik, 71, whose state will host the Hockey World Cup this year, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to officially recognise hockey as the national sport of India.

Mr Patnaik, who heads the Biju Janata Dal, said that he was shocked to learn that hockey -which is considered as our national game--has never been officially notified.

"As you know Sir, the next World Cup Hockey will be held in Odisha in November this year. While reviewing the preparations, I was surprised and shocked to know that what is popularly known as the National Game - Hockey, has in fact never been notified as our National Game," Mr Patnaik pointed out in his letter.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who is Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, however added that he would leave this up to the people who love Hockey to decide whether they would want it to be declared a national sport officially or they would continue to love it even if it remains unofficial.

In his letter, Mr Patnaik noted that the game is hugely popular "across different strata of society and regions" and "cutting across the rural urban divide". 

"In the tribal areas of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, hockey is a way of life. In fact, in a first of its kind, the state of Odisha is sponsoring the national hockey team for the next five years," he wrote.

Odisha will be hosting the Men's Hockey World Cup scheduled to be held in November-December this year.

While hockey enjoys the status of the unofficial national game of India, it has never been officially declared such.

(with inputs from agencies)


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