India: Hockey India felicitates Hangzhou Asian Games-bound Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams

~ Federation makes the event ‘doubly’ special with parents and family members invited to celebrate the occasion ~

Bengaluru, 31st August 2023: Sunehra Safar hosted by Hockey India on Thursday in Bengaluru, witnessed a joyful and special send-off ceremony for the Hangzhou Asian Games-bound Indian Men and Women Hockey Teams.

The occasion, particularly for the players, was doubly special as the federation had invited their parents and family members from different parts of the country to be part of the occasion, which also involved the teams and their family members getting felicitated. For many, this was the first time, to have their parents, spouse, children and siblings part of a ceremony of this accord which was graciously attended by Shri Tusharkanti Behera, Hon’ble Minister For Electronics and IT, Sports And Youth Services And Home, Government of Odisha, Hockey India President Padma Shri Dr Dilip Tirkey, Hockey India Secretary General Shri Bhola Nath Singh, Executive Members of Hockey India, former players and also technical officials and umpires from India who have been named to officiate at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Former players and Olympians such as AB Subbaiah, and Sabu Varkey were also present on the occasion. While there was as much fun, frolic and joyous celebrations with some enticing performances of yakshagana – a traditional dance-drama with origins in Dakshina Karnataka, Rajasthani folk and a fusion ensemble – the event also underlined the team’s preparedness to bag the top honours in the quadrennial extravaganza.

While Hockey India officially announced the members of the Men and Women Teams, they also anointed Harmanpreet Singh as the Captain and Hardik Singh as his deputy for the Men’s squad while Savita will continue to lead the women’s side along with Deep Grace Ekka as the Vice Captain.

The men’s team comprises PR Sreejesh, Krishan Pathak, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Sanjay, Sumit, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Abhishek, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sukhjeet Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.

The women’s team includes Savita, Bichu Devi Kharibam, Deepika, Lalremsiami, Monika, Navneet Kaur, Neha, Nisha, Sonika, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Deep Grace Ekka, Vandana Katariya, Sangita Kumari, Vaishnavi Vittal Phalke, Nikki Pradhan, Sushila Chanu and Salima Tete.

Having arrived in Bangalore from Odisha to see off the teams, the Hon’ble Minister For Electronics and IT, Sports And Youth Services And Home, Government of Odisha, Shri Tusharkanti Behera said, “I am very happy to be here for the send-off ceremony and personally wish the Indian Teams for the Hangzhou Asian Games. Having closely followed the recent success of both men’s and women’s teams, I am confident that they will bring home top laurels. I wish you all the very best.”

Speaking on the occasion, President, Hockey India, Padma Shri Dr Dilip Tirkey said, “Sunehra Safar – not only signifies the team’s journey from India to Hangzhou, China but it also signifies the years of hard work, dedication and sacrifices the players have made – training here in Bangalore, away from their families. Hockey India, through this event, acknowledges the incredible efforts put in by the families of the players. This is the first time, that all the family members of both teams have been brought together for an event and we wanted to honour the efforts of the family members in nurturing these champions. We are very grateful to all parents, spouses and children of the players who have graciously accepted our invitation and have come here to Bangalore to attend this event.”

“I feel very proud that the teams are on the right path to greater success. The recent Hero Asian Champions Trophy victory in Chennai and the women’s team winning some important matches in their recent tours and the inaugural FIH Nations Cup is a testimony to the team’s determination and calibre. I have no doubt in my mind that both teams will succeed in China and win their Olympic berths,” added the President, encouraging the players to gun for Gold.

Hockey India Secretary General Shri Bhola Nath Singh too encouraged the players to achieve their target. He said, “This is a proud moment for all of us, to watch a confident Indian men’s and women’s team all set for one of the biggest competitions of their career. I firstly congratulate each one of you for working immensely hard to earn the Indian Jersey for the Asian Games. The felicitation was a small gesture to recognize your efforts and sacrifices on and off the pitch. After months of hard work, it is now time to make fruit of this effort.”

Elated by Hockey India’s gesture, Harmanpreet Singh, Captain of the Indian Men’s Team said, “This was truly a wonderful event. It felt extremely special for me to have my family here, as part of this celebration and give us such a memorable send-off. This has only motivated us to bring laurels to the country.”

“We are deeply touched and honoured by Hockey India’s gesture to organise this beautiful send-off ceremony for us,” Indian Women’s Hockey Team Captain Savita said, echoing Harman’s sentiments.

“This display of support by the federation, as well as their dedication to celebrating all of life’s little victories for us, not only strengthens our team unity, but also highlights Hockey India’s unwavering support and dedication to our journey. I am confident that all of the players present today with their families are deeply grateful for this recognition and encouragement. We are now ready to embark on this journey with renewed zeal to do our country proud,” Savita added.  

The Hangzhou Asian Games-bound players’ were presented with a jersey while their families were felicitated with Angvastra, Bouquet & Hockey India Memento.

The Indian teams will leave for Hangzhou on 19th September and will continue to train in SAI, Bengaluru until their departure.

By Hockey India

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