New Delhi, Oct 9: Bollywood Superstar, Shah Rukh Khan on Tuesday (October 9) took to Twitter and extended his support and pledged his heartbeat to Indian Hockey.
The actor, who also owns a couple of cricket franchises, said he will be cheering the Men in Blue to get the World Cup back home. In his tweet, SRK also urged everyone to get behind Team India and cheer the team up.
With the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 just a few weeks away, the team is gearing up for the mega tournament and training in Bhubaneswar (even as they leave for the Asian Champions Trophy on October 14).
With Khan firmly behind the team, it is certain that the sport will attract a larger fan base that steps forward to see the battle of the finest hockey talent as India play the rest of the world at Bhubaneswar come end November.
Khan has always been an ardent fan of the game and used to play Hockey in his school days. Recalling his childhood dream to play for the country, he had earlier this year, expressed a sentiment for his five-year-old son, AbRam to grow up to be a hockey player and represent the country at the international stage.
Neki aur pooch pooch? Mujhe bolne ki der hai mere bhai, main koodh kar pahunch jaoonga! I wish u and our team the best. Hockey is the pride of India. We will cheer Chak De India! Thank u for thinking of me. Mera Dil Hockey ke liye bahut tez dhadakta hai!!! #HeartBeatsForHockey https://t.co/2F8XA07Khq— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) October 9, 2018
Khan was also instrumental in popularizing the sport in the country a decade back when he played the iconic role of a Hockey coach, Kabir Khan in the sports movie Chak De! India.
As far as a connection with Odisha goes Khan's portrayal of Ashoka, the Great, in his movie, Asoka, helped bring alive the glory of the Kalinga Empire of yore, and it is at Kalinga Stadium that he is now set to return.
Speaking on the occasion, Shah Rukh Khan said, "Hockey is the song of my heart. It is that time of my youth that is forever etched in my consciousness. I follow the game and watching the game, even now, gets my pulse racing. India is hosting the Hockey World Cup in November at Bhubaneswar, and I am honoured to be a part of hockey at the highest level. We have a young and promising team and they have my unconditional support. They are my heroes and I pledge my heartbeat for India, for the Indian team and for hockey.''
Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, said, "Shah Rukh Khan is one of the greatest icons of this generation and a role model for the youth of the country. His passion for sports is in full view as he has been at the forefront of sport even as he exemplifies the sporting spirit, the grit, and discipline that go into making a sportsman. Mr. Khan extending his support for Hockey will not only motivate the team but it will also catalyse the nation to join this movement for Hockey, and I thank him for the same."
Shri Patnaik further extended the invitation saying that the people of Odisha, worldwide hockey fans who would be in Odisha for the HWC 2018 and indeed the Kalinga Stadium look forward welcoming him, "as we cheer the finest talent and the sport at the highest level."
Accepting the invitation, Shah Rukh urged all fellow Indians to join him at the HWC 2018, saying, "My heart beats for hockey, and I will be at the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. Are you game?"
The Opening Ceremony of the World Cup is scheduled for November 27 and will feature Shah Rukh Khan as also a live performance from musical genius AR Rahman.
The Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 will set the stage on fire from November 28 to December 16 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. A total of sixteen nations will be participating in the tournament wherein each team will play three matches during the league stage over the span of twelve days before four cross-over matches take place on December 10 and 11, 2018.
Odisha is popularly termed the 'cradle of hockey' having given India many star Hockey players including Dilip Tirkey, and in the current national team: Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Birendra Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra and Lilima Minz.
Odisha is currently associated as Major Team Partner of the Indian National Hockey teams (Men and Women) for 5 years. Odisha is also the Presenting Partner for the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. The state provides full scholarships for budding talent in 11 disciplines taught at the 16 sports hostels across the state.