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Hockey World Cup: Amit Rohidas lives his late father's dream

Amit Rohidas, the first non-tribal Olympian of Odisha and also the vice-captain of the team, scored India's first goal at the Hockey World Cup. The match was held in Rourkela, around 130kms from his village.

Hockey World Cup: Amit Rohidas lives his late fathers dream

Amit Rohidas's mother and nephew with a mini-hockey stick gifted by him at his house (left); Rohidas with the Player of the Match award at the Hockey World Cup


Tazeen Qureshy

Updated: 19 Jan 2023 9:33 AM GMT

At the first look, Indian hockey vice-captain Amit Rohidas' house gives the impression of a museum of sorts. There are no sculptures, of course, or big statues; but the walls have countless photographs of moments which have become memories now.

In his living room, there is his framed photo which 'declares' him as the captain of the Pro League season last year. Besides that photo, there is a family photo at the Golden temple in Amritsar and a couple of more from other vacations. There is also a photo of him receiving the Arjuna award in 2021.

Across the room, there is a hall which connects the other rooms. The wall again has a collection of photographs of family and sports moments. One of them is a portrait photo of his father with a garland around it.

"He lost his father before the Tokyo Olympics. It had been his father's dream to watch Amit play in the Olympics. In fact, he would always tell him I will consider you a sportsperson only if you play in the Olympics. Amit fulfilled his dream by not only playing an Olympics but also winning a medal, but his father couldn't live to see it," Golapi Rohidas, Amit Rohidas's mother tells the Bridge.

On January 13 this year, Amit Rohidas, the first non-tribal Olympian of Odisha and also the vice-captain of the team, kick-started India's campaign by scoring the first goal; also the 200th one for India at the World Cup. The match was held in Rourkela, around 130kms from his village.

"I didn't know it was the 200th goal until after the match. I had an opportunity and I scored. I am happy that everyone from my family and friends were there in the stadium to watch me play. But, I wish my father could have been there too. I am content that he watched me play my first World Cup in Bhubaneswar in 2018. But, he would have been elated to watch me play at my home," says Amit.

A non-tribal hockey player from Saunamara

Amit's family is from Saunamara in Sundergarh district of Odisha, the village which has given India some of its finest hockey players, including Subhadra Pradhan and Dilip Tirkey. Though a non-tribal, he picked up hockey early on as the sport had become a cultural aspect in the village. Youngest of the five siblings, he also found support from his family.

"We always encouraged him to play. As parents, we gave him our full support and showered our blessings. Whenever we got a chance, we would also go and watch him play," says his mother.

Unlike many families in Odisha, Amit doesn't have an immediate member who plays professional hockey. He picked up the sport after watching Dilip Tirkey play. But he hopes his own journey inspires others to pick up the sport. In line is his toddler nephew (elder brother's son), who already has a mini hockey stick which he carries all the time, gifted by his Amit uncle.

"I want him to become a hockey player. I hope that mini hockey stick will encourage him to stay close to the sport and pick it up when the time is right," says Amit.

Amit's first brush with professional hockey came in 2004 when he joined the Panposh sports hostel in Rourkela. Five years later, he grabbed the eyeballs when he emerged the top scorer in the Asia Cup at Myanmar. His senior India call came in 2013 at the Azlan Shah Cup. After a forgettable campaign at the Junior World Cup in 2013, Amit made a comeback of sorts in 2017 and has since been a regular.

Amit Rohidas (right) given a reception in Saunamara after the Olympic bronze in 2021 (File Photo)

In 2018, when Amit played his first World Cup, India's hopes were dashed when they crashed out in the quarterfinals after losing against the Netherlands. Though this edition wouldn't be a cakewalk either, the bronze-medal win at the Olympics has kept the hopes alive of the fans.

Wales match is crucial for goal difference: Amit Rohidas

India has already played two group matches and will be playing the last one against Wales today. The team which tops the pool will get a direct entry to the quarterfinals.

Given the current situation, Spain winning against England and India routing Wales would pave the way for the hosts to enter the quarterfinal directly. If England wins against Spain, the goal difference would come into the picture.

"All the pools have a similar story. The teams are closely tied. So, we don't know how things will unfold. This makes the Wales match crucial. We have to also see the goal difference, which might be a challenge," Amit says.

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