At Hockey Festival, Parrikar Assures Kodagu of

Pics Ramachandra / Impact and Chammatira Praveen

At Hockey Festival Final, Parrikar Assures Kodagu of Defence Academy

Madikeri: The Kodava family hockey festival, sponsored by different Kodava clans every year under the aegis of Kodagu Hockey Association, has gone into a few Books of Records for the record number of clannish teams’ participation.

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Well-nigh three hundred teams, each representing different clans of one Kodava community, involving 4,500 players, the tournament now having seen it for the 20th year running in 2016, held over 28 days effective April 10 – if this is not something out of this world, what else is?

This year’s hockey ‘namme’ (festival) was sponsored by the Shantheyanda family, which owes its genesis (jamma) to Mukkodlu, a small-time village located about 22 kms from Madikeri on the way to Somwarpet.

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Among the prominent persons from this clan are Shantheyanda Veena Achaiah, chairperson of Karnataka State Handicrafts Development Corporation and Shantheyanda Ravi Kushalappa, former president of Kodagu zilla panchayat.

The first-ever annual festival was hosted by the Pandanda clan in 1997, making a modest beginning with 60 teams from different clans taking part. More and more interest was generated over the years, with the number soaring year after year.

The last highest registration of participating teams, until this year, was 280, hosted by the Kaliyanda clan, in 2003. This year’s turnout is the highest-ever, 299. The baton to host the 21st edition in 2017 has been handed over to the Biddatanda clan.

In the final encounter in the 2016 festival, held on the grounds of Field Marshal F M Cariappa College in Madikeri on Sunday, May 8 afternoon, the Kaliyanda team emerged champions and the Palanganda team runners-up.

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The chief guest at the final match was none other than the Union minister of defence and former chief minister of Goa, Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar.

Perhaps it was a token of tribute from the ministry of defence to the tiny district of Kodagu (Coorg earlier) – a ‘C’ class state with its own assembly, chief minister and cabinet until the re-organization of the states in 1956 – which has given a few generals including K M Cariappa and K S Thimayya and hundreds of commissioned officers to our armed forces.

As Parrikar arrived at the college grounds, thousands of spectators who had gathered around, gave him a standing ovation. At a brief programme held on the dais, he was presented a ‘peechekatti’, a traditional dagger representing the community.

In his speech, Parrikar said that he was paying his maiden visit to Kodagu because he had heard that it was the land of generals and soldiers. He also acknowledged with pride that it had produced hundreds of hockey players who played at the national and international levels.

Yet, he expressed surprise that, in spite of the district’s significant contribution to the armed forces, no defence academy had been set up here as yet. He assured the people of the district that he would take immediate steps towards realizing this dream.

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Minister-in-charge of district Dinesh Gundu Rao – son of the late chief minister R Gundu Rao who hailed from Kodagu – said that the tournament was the rarest of its kind held within any community in the country.

He termed Kodagu as the jewel in the crown of the state and everyone needed to strive for the development of the district. It was for the first time that he had come to watch a match during the festival and he was privileged to have the presence of the defence minister.

Mysuru-Kodagu constituency’s Lok Sabha member Pratap Simha said that Kodagu was not only a land of the generals but also sportspersons. The defence minister had fully apprised himself of the bravery and martial tradition of the people of the district and he had arrived to honour them, he further said.

Among those who were present were Virajpet MLA and former assembly speaker K G Bopaiah, Madikeri MLA and former minister M P Appachu Ranjan, MLC M P Sunil Subramani, Veena Achaiah, zilla panchayat president B A Harish, Congress leaders including Brijesh Kalappa, Mittu Chengappa, T P Ramesh, pioneer of family hockey concept Pandanda Kuttappa and many other prominent citizens.

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Parrikar was introduced to the members of the two teams encountering each other in the final – Kaliyanda and Palanaganda. He launched the match by hitting a silver ball with a silver hockey stick.

There was a minor drizzle before the match. But the hot and humid atmosphere prevailed later on. Thousands of hockey-lovers braved the heat and enjoyed the much-awaited final.

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