Tirkey takes over as Hockey India president
It will be the first time a former India international will head HI, which was placed under a three-member CoA in May.
Four months after the Delhi High Court placed Hockey India (HI) under a Committee of Administrators (CoA), the National Sports Federation (NSF) got its house in order when it elected its executive body on Friday with former India skipper Dilip Tirkey as its president.
It will be the first time a former India international will head HI, which was placed under a three-member CoA in May after former India player Aslam Sher Khan had challenged the then Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief Narinder Batra’s appointment as a life member of HI.
Tirkey, Hockey Jharkhand president Bhola Nath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Hockey head Rakesh Katyal had filed nominations for the post of president with elections due on October 1. However, Singh and Katyal pulled out on Friday—the last day of withdrawing their names—leaving Tirkey unopposed to head the NSF.
“First of all, I want to thank all the associations, units and members of Hockey India for supporting me with an open mind. I am also thankful to Bhola Nath ji and Rakesh ji for supporting me and withdrawing their nominations," Tirkey, 44, said. "Right now, the 2023 World Cup is very important for us. We want to make it a memorable event for every hockey lover. For the future, we will plan for the kids at the sub-junior and junior levels, how we can produce both quality and quantity. At the senior level, both the men's and women's teams are doing very well, finishing 3rd and 4th at the Olympics. Whatever is missing, we will work on it."
Meanwhile, Singh has been elected unopposed as secretary general while Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu president Sekar Manoharan has been elected as treasurer. "Dilip is a three-time Olympian, Padma Shri, Arjuna awardee, former India captain — who can be a better president for HI than him? More sports persons should come forward for sports administration in the country,” said Singh. “We will build a roadmap together so that we can help the team convert the Olympic bronze into gold. We will be working at the grassroots level in all states so that the best players come forward to play for India.”
Asima Ali (Jammu & Kashmir) and SVS Subramanya Gupta (Karnataka) have been chosen as vice-presidents while Arti Singh (Rajasthan) and Sunil Malik (Haryana) have been elected as joint secretaries. The five Executive Board (EB) members are Arun Kumar Sarswat (Rajasthan), Asrita Lakra (Jharkhand), Gurpreet Kaur (Delhi), V Sunil Kumar (Kerala) and Tapan Kumar Das (Assam).
Significantly, the international hockey federation (FIH) has also given the green light to the appointments. The world body had raised concerns over India hosting the 2023 World Cup in January after the court intervention.
“We are pleased to observe that the Executive Board of Hockey India stands elected as has been put on the website of Hockey India from today and that the posts election was unanimous for all posts,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil wrote in a letter — accessed by HT — to the CoA and the newly elected executive body. The CoA comprised Justice Anil Dave, former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi and former India great Zafar Iqbal.
“We are delighted that the election process has been completed and a democratically (elected) body is now in place. With effect from today September 23, 2022 we note that the CoA has concluded its mandate, and the FIH will now communicate directly with the newly elected Executive Board for matters pertaining to Hockey India,” the letter stated.
Tirkey will be the third player to preside over an NSF after Athletics Federation of India’s Adille Sumariwalla and Kalyan Chaubey, who earlier this month was chosen as the new president of the All India Football Federation.
The 44-year-old former defender hails from Sundergarh in Odisha and is the most capped player India has ever produced with 412 internationals. The former India skipper made his debut in 1995 and took part in three Olympics and was awarded the Arjuna in 2002 and Padma Shri in 2004. He won gold at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games before claiming silver at Busan 2002. He also won two Asia Cup gold medals in 2003 and 2007 along with a bronze in 1999.
After retiring in 2010, he entered politics and was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha as a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP in 2012, a position he held till 2018. He also worked as the chairman of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation before taking over as chairman of the Odisha Hockey Promotion Council. He nominated himself for the HI presidency as the current head of Hockey Association of Odisha.