Hockey World Cup 2018: Bhubaneswar impresses Somaya

Somaya is in Bhubaneswar with his former inside forward, Mervyn Fernandes and will be joined by Joaquim Carvalho on Monday.

M.M. Somaya is a three-time Olympian.   -  Vivek Bendre

Former India captain, three time Olympian and a member of the Indian team which won the hockey gold at the Moscow Olympics, M. M. Somaya is thrilled to be here and watching all action at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here.

Quite impressed by what he has seen here, Somaya said: “I have been to many World Cups. I was a player in 1982 in Bombay and 1986 in London. As a journalist I covered the 1990 World Cup in Lahore, and in 2002 in Malaysia. I have also heard from players and people as to how World Cups have been organised. But I have never seen a World Cup managed and conducted like the one here.”

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Somaya is particularly pleased the way the game and players are portrayed. “Not only the streets, from the airport to everywhere, are full of hoardings, but also the venues. The roads talk only about hockey here. The players have been made the heroes. The arrangements for the players and spectators in the stadium is remarkable.”

“There is also the fan park where the spectators can mingle with the players and their idols. The crowd is very participative even when India is not playing. It’s a huge celebration of hockey. The atmosphere is electric with people enjoying hockey. They have conducted it in an outstanding way; it’s one of the best centres in world hockey today. It would be hard to replicate this World Cup.”

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Somaya is here with his former inside forward, Mervyn Fernandes and will be joined by Joaquim Carvalho on Monday. Talking about the Indian team, Somaya believes it has the potential for a podium finish.

He said: “It’s a young team and it has put up a remarkable performance so far. The quarter-finals will be critical. I hope under the able guidance of Harendra Singh, I am sure the players would respond to his coaching. I am really hopeful the team will come through the quarter finals.”