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Book on Dilip Tirkey hit stands (8/8/2005)
--K. Arumugam
Olympic Captain Dilip Tirkey:
By K. Arumugam. Paperpack Pages 143 USD 8

Dilip Tirkey is a tribal from a nondescript, remote village in Orissa, who in a short span of time rose to become the contemporary India’s greatest hockey player. The naturally endowed Dilip, with focus and dedication, sailed over many obstacles to become India’s Athens Olympics hockey captain. His profile might not exactly match rag-to-riches stories of the Brazilian footballers, but in the Indian context, his rise to fame is no less a folklore stuff. Dilip is the first, and so far the only tribal to captain a hockey team in Independent India. He has never been dropped in eight years between 1996 and 2003, only player to enjoy such a long, unbroken spell. He was declared ‘Best Player’ of 2000 National Championship, 1998 India-Pakistan Test Series, 2005 Premier Hockey League and the list is too long to complete. Dilip is the only hockey player to win the gold at both Asian Games and the Afro-Asian Games. The book by veteran hockey writer K. Arumugam, with rare photographs, is a fabulous record of Dilip’s disciplined, pugnacious, undeterred and calm life which has only one goal – playing hockey to perfection

“I never thought I will become what I am today…. all because of hockey, nothing else..hardwork changed my life” Arumugam quotes Dilip in the book after India won the Afro-Asian Games hockey gold at Hyderabad under his captaincy in 2003. The author follows Dilip’s life from his childhood while proving that hockey was in his blood. ‘Dilip’s father Vincent was a State level hockey player and represented Orissa in the Senior National Championships. He got the job because of his hockey credentials. So Dilip did not need to look elsewhere for guidance’, the author writes.

Talking about his killer instinct the writer goes through the early days of the Indian captain. He states how in a village level match in Sundargarh Dilip was once doing the emergency duty of goalkeeping when he was hit on the forehead and bled profusely. ‘But Dilip did not give up till the finish,’ Arumugam mentions. Other intriguing facet of the first tribal Arjuna awardee’s life was his first job with the Railway Coach Factory, Kapurthala in Punjab. Railways had to issue a special permission for the talented youngster’s recruitment as he was under 18 years of age.

The author makes a close trail of Dilip’s career while narrating how he made his national and international debut at an early age despite having a frail structure. The biggest plus point in Dilip’s career graph is his multi-dimensional, flawless game and his adaptability with any player and any coach. To prove his point Arumugam quotes celebrated coach and Olympic gold medallist M.K. Kaushik: “Though young, he had mature game sense.. He adjusted with elder Anil Aldrin and younger Lajrus Barla, who alternated with him in defence. That was why Dilip is a pillar of strength for every coach’.

And the writer quotes almost every coach who have worked with Dilip depended hugely on him. Arumugam justifies that one of the keys to this Mr. Dependable’s success is his attitude. The other points the writer tries to establish are: How he never had a temperamental problem with any coach, making him everybody’s first choice, and how he has been the darling of the co-players throughout the years. The author chronicles the high and low point of Dilip’s journey with the stick and how he has emerged the winner on every occasion because of his underlying humility and magnanimity.

The author looks at the personality of the hockey captain off the field and reflects on his character through the views of his brothers and only sister. The book lucidly documents Dilip’s ascendancy from a non-descript village lad to his crowning as the Indian captain at Athens Olympics, where he emerged a champion despite the Indian team’s dismal performance. Some of the images given in the book are rare and you have them chronologically arranged, from the day Dilip joined the national camp in early 1994.

Review by Yajnabalkya of Indian Express 678

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