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One of the most common misconceptions surrounding Indian sports is the adage that Hockey is India's National Game. From schoolchildren to the older generation, this is a myth that has found its place among the memories of the common populace. But, as Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently pointed out in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that is, in fact not the case.
The letter goes on to articulate that hockey is a sport that has had a rich legacy in the country. From periods of domination to the fact that this sport has found itself into the cultures of states like Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Jharkhand. This is what Naveen Patnaik's plea is based on. https://twitter.com/Naveen_Odisha/status/1009359062805331968 Towards the end of 2018, the state of Odisha is all set to host the Men's Hockey World Cup. In preparation for this mega event, the city of Bhubaneshwar has undergone renovation in a massive scale. The Odisha Government, which prior the Commonwealth Games, became the first state to sponsor a National Team, has really gone all out into getting the preparations of the tournament right. In 2017, Bhubaneshwar had also played host to the Hockey World League Finals where Team India finished with a bronze. "Till the 1980s, India's presence in the international sports arena was marked by its brilliance in Hockey. Crores of Indians rejoiced every time our Hockey Team became victorious and our National Anthem was made. Hockey became part of the Indian psyche." https://twitter.com/sports_odisha/status/1009363943838572544 The step is surely a welcome one. After a dry spell in Hockey which has lasted for decades now, only recently has India started climbing back up the ladder of excellence in World Hockey. With sufficient monetary backing by Hockey India and and Odisha, the sport has at last started coming to the limelight enough to inspire more youngsters to take up the sport. Patnaik ended his letter with a similar plea. "Hockey truly deserves to be notified as our National Games. This will be a fitting tribute to the great Hockey players who have made our country proud. It will also inspire our future generations.
"In 1948, a new born India witnessed this glory in London when the National Hockey Team won an Olympic Gold," read Patnaik's letter. "A nation of 33 crores rejoiced as the gold was won in London by defeating Great Britain."