Odisha on track to host 2021 Women’s U-17 World Cup: Vishal Dev

The sports secretary said the state will soon launch the FIFA Women’s World Cup legacy programme which will focus on identifying young footballers.

Sports and Youth Services Commissioner-cum-Secretary Vishal Dev during an interaction in Bhubaneswar.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

After a three-month stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Odisha is on track to complete the infrastructure development for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup by September, the state’s Sports and Youth Services Commissioner-cum-Secretary Vishal K Dev said on Sunday.

In an Instagram Live chat with Sportstar, Dev said the Kalinga Stadium's main pitch in Bhubaneswar, which will host eight matches including a quarterfinal and a semifinal of the 2021 Women’s U-17 World Cup is ready.

The tournament, postponed due to the pandemic, will now be held from 17 February to 7 March 2021. “Our main pitch is ready as per FIFA standards. There is some minor work pending in the stadium which is going to be completed by the end of this month. The practice pitch in Kalinga stadium is also being renovated along with the setting up of changing rooms and other allied infrastructure,” he said.

“We are preparing three new football pitches in the city with the idea being that, we'll have to give a pitch each along with the related facilities to each of the teams that are housed here. We are confident of getting everything ready by the end of September,” he said.

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The sports secretary said the state will soon launch the FIFA Women’s World Cup legacy programme which will focus on identifying and nurturing young footballers from the state. FIFA will be the technical partner for the programme.

He also revealed the state’s plan to renovate, reorganise and restructure the sports hostels to cater to a maximum of two disciplines per venue.

“Our endeavor has always been to see the growth of the entire sports ecosystem. It's not just about hosting international events, it has a lot to do with strengthening the grassroots. So we have been renovating our sports hostels.

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"Earlier, every sports hostel used to cater to athletes of three or four disciplines. It will now be limited to one or two at the most. The idea is to bring in more focus on coaching and training. Nayagarh was earlier taking care of four sports disciplines, it will now be only for football,” he explained.


With limited funding and sponsorships due to the pandemic, Dev said the priority for the state has been on the infrastructure for the international sporting events and making the High Performance Centres functional in its main facilities.

He attributed the state’s rapid strides in sports to its unique model of governance.

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“Most of the government's coaching/training centres get into problems because the processes are not very flexible. We need to take a whole lot of approvals, so that slows down the speed at which you can take decisions. In the case of our high performance centres, we said he will stay out of it.

"We will just play the role of a facilitator. So we will get a corporate sponsor to partly fund the requirements, get a sporting legend or a company to run the HPC. The land will be provided by the government,” he said.

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