Biswajyoti Brahma, NEW DELHI: “I will have to be more vocal to put my point across,” conceded Dilip Tirkey. Hard as steel on the hockey turf, but remarkably soft-spoken off it, the former India captain and three-time Olympian took oath as a Rajya Sabha member on Tuesday.
Backbone of the national team for over a decade, Tirkey was a man of few words during his playing days. But his election as Biju Janta Dal MP from Odisha means that the ex-player from the Sundergarh tribal belt would have to be more assertive while raising serious issues.
“I know I have to be more open. I have responsibilities to fulfill as an MP,” Tirkey told TOI.
The former defender said it was a great honour for him to take his oath in the presence of the Vice President, Prime Minister and several senior leaders of the house. “It’s a different feeling. Some of them even asked me about my age,” said the 34-year-old.
Tirkey described his first day in a new role. “I had never been to the Parliament before. Many leaders spoke to me and asked about hockey. They said as an MP, I have a responsibility towards hockey and other sports.”
Tirkey said he was confident of doing justice to his new role as he has seen “the good as well as bad” times in his life.
“I come from an ordinary background and have seen tough life. I have plans to work not only for hockey and other sports but also for the development of rural and tribal areas. My focus would also be on education for these areas.”
Tirkey’s appointment comes at a crucial time, as the Indian hockey team prepares for the London Olympics. He assisted chief coach Michael Nobbs as defenders’ coach during the qualifiers earlier this year.
The former defender said that despite his new commitments, he would still find time out for his first love.
“I can’t live without hockey. If given a chance, I will still definitely work with the national team,” said the Padma Shri awardee.