From being the first player from Odisha to represent the senior India team to witnessing the 2023 World Cup action in his home district, Hockey India (HI) president Dilip Tirkey is a very busy but content man.
After being elected as the federation’s first player-president last September, the former India captain had a huge task on hand with less than four months to go for the 15th edition of the quadrennial event that for the first time is being held at two venues – Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.
In an interview, the 45-year-old discussed, among other things, challenges faced in hosting the World Cup, return of the Hockey India League (HIL), and centres apart from Odisha hosting global hockey events.
We are two days into the World Cup. What have been the challenges?
Hosting has not been a challenge. Odisha is used to hosting world-level tournaments for a long time. What was challenging was that there was very less time for construction of the stadium, to arrange the accommodation of players and officials, developing the airport. After announcing that both Bhubaneswar and Rourkela will stage the World Cup, we lost two years due to Covid. So, the work got tougher. The tendering and ordering processes all stopped. That was a challenge. We’ve been able to do everything in a very short span of time. If you had come four months back, you’d have seen what the condition was. Finally, it is in this shape and looks beautiful. So, the first couple of days have been very good. The matches were exciting to watch. More than 21,000 people saw India’s match at the stadium. For non-India matches, 15,000-17,000 people have been pouring in.
Rourkela is not well connected by air. What efforts were made to arrange flights for teams and officials to travel between the two cities?
The Odisha government under Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ji has worked passionately and was deeply involved in developing hockey. The state government and HI worked together in trying to give hockey a new direction, a new image, and that is happening. Two venues almost mean hosting two World Cups. Man power, expenses, efforts – everything doubles. Flights and aircraft shuttles were arranged for teams travelling between the two cities. This was a new experience altogether. We used to see in cricket World Cups that one match was in Sri Lanka, the next in India. The Odisha government arranged chartered flights and many other facilities, from beautification of the city to hockey awareness discussions, roads, transport, accommodation, airport, etc.
You belong to Sundergarh and grew up in this area. How does it feel to see the World Cup in your own district?
This is neither for me nor Odisha, it is for the entire country. We are very happy that the World Cup is happening in Sundergarh, which is crazy about hockey. What can make me happier… it is taking place in Rourkela, in front of my home. A lot of change has come in hockey today; development, infrastructure, tournaments, coaching programmes. On behalf of HI, I am also grateful to the international federation (FIH) for showing interest to hold it here.
Have you found a slot in the FIH calendar to host HIL?
We are all talking about it. We are in the process. Meetings have been held. The pathway is being discussed – how to make it better, how to sustain it long term. We are getting positive responses. We have asked for a slot, FIH is working on it. Whenever we get that, we will announce.
All global hockey events coming to India are held in Odisha. Will we see other centres also hosting?
We are looking at it. World class infrastructure is very important to host such events. We are welcoming more cities and states to show an interest in holding these events. Odisha has two synthetic turfs, at the Kalinga Stadium and Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, for world hockey. They have infrastructure and facilities like nowhere else. We welcome states who have good facilities to host. So far, no request has come. When it does, we will definitely think about it.
Leading Mexico players snub Davis Cup tie over differences with federation | Tennis News
Mexico’s leading tennis players have decided not to play in next week’s Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against Taiwan due to differences with the Mexican Tennis Federation (FMT).
Led by Santiago Gonzalez, Alejandro Hernandez and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, the players said they will not take part in the Feb. 4-5 Group I playoff tie in Metepec, State of Mexico.
“After a difficult deliberation, we have not reached a positive conclusion, so we have decided not to participate in the upcoming series against the Chinese Taipei team,” said the players’ statement, published on social media on Monday.
“The lack of communication, lack of planning and lack of interest show that the situation has not been handled in the right way and that personal interests have taken precedence over sporting ones.
“It is sad that the FMT does not have the minimum standards in dealing and planning with the best national representatives.”
The players said they had already informed the federation of their reasons for not participating in the Davis Cup tie.
The statement was also signed by players Ernesto Escobedo, Lucas Gomez, Hans Hach, Gerardo Lopez, and Manuel Sanchez.
The FMT was not immediately available to comment.
West Ham set up Man United tie by beating Derby | Football News
West Ham United eased into the FA Cup fifth round with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to third-tier Derby County on Monday to set up a meeting with Manchester United.
Derby, fourth in League One, went into the match on the back of 14 matches unbeaten in all competitions but were quickly overrun by the Premier League side, who took the lead in the 10th minute with a close-range volley from Jarrod Bowen.
Bowen went 12 matches without a goal before netting twice against Everton last week and now has three in his last two games.
The forward then crossed for striker Michail Antonio to head in a second goal five minutes after the interval to break his own goal drought stretching back to November.
David Moyes’ side saw out the victory without conceding many chances, recording back-to-back wins for the first time since October, and Bowen said he hoped the win would boost his side, who are 16th in the table, one point above the relegation zone.
“Two wins on the bounce is good for us it’s all about results and momentum and we can use this as a real springboard,” he said.
Midfielder Pablo Fornals added: “Everyone knows it hasn’t been an easy season so every game we can win gives us massive confidence.
“We work hard every day in training to get a chance and then you have to take it. That’s what the players tried to do tonight.”
Valencia sacks coach Gennaro Gattuso for poor results | Football News
Spanish club Valencia sacked coach Gennaro Gattuso on Monday following the team’s poor results.
Valencia said in a statement it reached a mutual agreement with Gattuso to end their contract.
The announcement came after a 1-0 loss at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday. The club has won only one of its last 10 league games, before the World Cup.
The latest defeat dropped Valencia to 14th place, one point above the relegation zone.
Its only two wins this year came in the Copa del Rey, though it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Athletic Bilbao at home last week. In the Spanish Super Cup, Valencia lost to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout in the semifinals.
The 45-year-old Gattuso arrived last June on a two-year contract.
The former defensive midfielder helped Italy win the 2006 World Cup and AC Milan win two Champions League titles, both as a player. He coached Milan and Napoli in Italy.
Valencia did not announce a replacement for Gattuso.
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