Renowned football coach Nanda Kishore Patnaik succumbs to Covid-19

Football Association of Odisha (FAO) in a statement confirmed the passing away of the coach, who is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

Former India captain Sradhanjali Samantray along with coach Nanda Kishore Patnaik.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Renowned Odisha football coach Nanda Kishore Patnaik succumbed to COVID-19 in Bhubaneswar on the wee hours of Tuesday.

He was 65 and was undergoing treatment for the coronavirus at a private hospital. Football Association of Odisha (FAO) in a statement confirmed the passing away of the coach, who is survived by his wife, son and daughter.  

Former India women's team captain, Sradhanjali Samantray termed the loss as 'shocking.'

"It's really shocking. We all hoped that Nanda sir will recover but unfortunately he passed away. I spoke to him on May 17 and was optimistic about his recovery. It's a sad day for Odisha football," Sradhanjali, the current coach of the Odisha women's football team, told Sportstar.

Patnaik was the man behind the growth of women's football in Odisha and produced India internationals like Sradhanjali, Gitanjali Samantray, Ranjita Mohanty, Sarita Behera, Sudipta Das and many more players who not only represented the national women's football teams under various age groups but also left a mark in the national senior women's team.

"Not just me but so many players under his guidance went on to play for India. We are indebted to him," Sradhanjali, who made her India debut in 1997, said.

Born on March 16, 1956, in Baripada town of Mayurbhanj district, Patnaik represented Odisha in Junior Football Championship in 1977 and 1978.

It was in 1995 when Patnaik began coaching women footballers with a dream of producing footballers from Odisha who would don national colours. For his commitment and dedication towards the rise of women's football in the state, Patnaik was bestowed with the Biju Patnaik Award in 2015.

"He was a very passionate man. For him, football came first then family and he was always the first person to be on the ground," Sradhanjali said.

Patnaik, who worked with the Accountant General Office in Bhubaneswar used to provide free training to the lesser privileged girls. Along with the Football Association of Odisha, the coach also played a key role in securing jobs for many women footballers in the state. Even after his retirement, Patnaik was keenly involved in nurturing grassroots talent and was involved with the FAO in various capacities.  

Many prominent personalities including Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik paid rich tributes.  

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