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Odia Girl Indian Hockey Star Deep Grace Ekka Bids Farewell to Illustrious Career

Odia Girl, Indian Hockey Star Deep Grace Ekka Bids Farewell to Illustrious Career

New Delhi: In a poignant announcement on Saturday, Indian hockey stalwart Deep Grace Ekka officially retired from international hockey, concluding a remarkable career that spanned over a decade. The 29-year-old defender and penalty corner specialist leave the field as one of India’s most capped players, boasting an impressive record of 286 matches.

Expressing her gratitude and humility, Ekka shared the news on Instagram, stating, “It is with immense gratitude and humility that I officially announce my retirement from International Hockey today.” She reflected on her journey from 2011 to 2023 as the highlight of her life, expressing deep honor for representing India at the pinnacle of the sport.

Ekka’s retirement comes amid her non-inclusion in the recently-concluded FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers squad, a decision not explained by coach Janneke Schopman. Furthermore, she was not named in the 24-member squad for the Pro League matches in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.

The talented defender’s journey in hockey began at the age of 17 when she made her international debut in the Four Nation Tournament in Argentina. Hailing from Lulkidihi village in Sundargarh district, Odisha, Ekka quickly rose through the ranks, showcasing her skills in the U18 Girls Asia Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ekka’s notable achievements include winning a historic bronze medal at the 2013 Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Germany with the Indian junior squad. In the same year, she secured a bronze with the senior side at the Women’s Asia Cup and a Silver at the Asian Champions Trophy.

Instrumental in the team’s qualification for the Rio Olympic Games, Ekka played a vital role in India’s defense line at the Tokyo Olympics, where they finished fourth. Her contribution to Indian women’s hockey has been widely recognized, and her retirement marks the end of an era.

Dilip Tirkey, President of Hockey India, lauded Ekka’s illustrious career, stating, “For over a decade, Deep Grace Ekka has been a household name in women’s hockey. Her success in hockey has been a huge inspiration for youngsters not only in Odisha but across the country.” He extended his best wishes for Ekka’s future endeavors, acknowledging her significant impact on the sport.

As Deep Grace Ekka takes her well-deserved exit from the international stage, her legacy in Indian women’s hockey remains etched in the history books, inspiring generations to come.

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