Arch-rival Pakistan Hockey team to visit India for 2018 world cup

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiling the new team logo ad jerseys in New Delhi on Thursday

IOA President Narinder Batra said that Hockey World Cup is an worldwide event and that if any country is a member of the IOC then no one could stop them from participating. Both the men's and women's hockey team will be sponsored by state government of Odisha.

The Pakistan hockey team will travel to India to participate in the 2018 World Cup, which will be hosted in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha in November-December this year.

It is a welcome return to World Cup action for Pakistan, following their failure to qualify for the hockey World Cup 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. No wonder, Odisha has produced India's finest hockey talent. This is a first where a state government will not just be promoting a sport within its boundaries but will support and nurture the Indian Hockey Teams. "This is Odisha's gift to the nation", he said.

The State of Odisha is the cradle of Hockey, and has produced hockey greats like Dilip & Ignace Tirkey and Lazarus Barla in the past, and players in the current team like Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey & Namita Toppo to name a few. He requested the State government to build a state-of-the-art High Performance Centre for elite athletes of the country.

Odisha has been supporting the game with various initiatives; it owns the the Kalinga Lancers in the Hockey India League.

Pakistan men have an enviable record in World Cup competition, having lifted the trophy on a record four occasions as well as twice claiming the silver medal. We hope that Odisha's association with national hockey coincides with a golden period for the sport. The new logo is a summation of Odisha - the Konark Wheel, the state's famed coastline, endangered Olive Ridley turtles, Odissi dance form and hockey.

Odisha is the host and title sponsor of Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 which will be held in November in Bhubaneswar. Batra further requested Odisha Govt to set up a High performance center in Odisha, which is not there anywhere in India. "It is an global sporting event and if you are a member of the worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC), so no country can be stopped", Batra, who succeeded N. Ramachandran from Tamil Nadu as a new president of IOA in December, said.

The sponsorship is unique in the sense that for the first time a state has come forward for such an association.

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