Odisha’s constantly evolving sporting ecosystem

Odisha is building India’s largest hockey stadium in Rourkela with a seating capacity of 20,000. An indoor aquatic complex for swimming, a High Performance Centre for badminton are also being set up.

Landmark: Representational image of Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, Odisha. The stadium is expected to be ready in time for the 15th Hockey World Cup.   -  Special Arrangement

Odisha resumed its growth as a sports hub after Covid-induced disruptions when it hosted the men’s hockey Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar successfully.

The state will organise another edition of the senior World Cup hockey tournament in January 2023. For the first time two venues will hold the World Cup simultaneously and Bhubaneswar will be the first city to host consecutive editions of the showpiece event.

Taking heart from the ‘incident free’ conduct of the JWC despite challenges like hosting it amid the pandemic and on a short notice, the Odisha Government is confident of holding the 15th edition of the hockey World Cup well.

While listing the challenges of splitting the World Cup at two venues, Odisha Sports Secretary R. Vineel Krishna sounded optimistic about meeting the deadlines and delivering another memorable event.

On track: R. Vineel Krishna, Odisha’s Sports Secretary is optimistic about the state meeting the deadlines and delivering a memorable Hockey World Cup 2023.   -  Special Arrangement

 

The main challenges — including building of a new stadium, ensuring ideal distribution of matches at two venues and arranging transport and accommodation — were related to hosting matches at Rourkela.

“In Rourkela, we are building India's largest hockey stadium with 20,000 capacity. L&T is constructing it. I think it will be completed in time and we will have sufficient time to conduct a test event and go ahead with the big event.

“It is a steel structure. Currently, the fabrication is happening at a different location. Once that is there, probably from December or January you will start seeing the super structure. Since it is more of an erection and installation work, it will proceed very quickly,” Krishna said about the stadium.

He also spoke about the logistical issues. “We need to understand how the match scheduling will be done because there has to be a fair (amount of) play for all the teams (at both venues). It should not be like some teams are here and some teams are there.

“So the main challenge will be in terms of logistics of transport arrangement. We have taken it up with the Government of India. The expansion work at the Rourkela airstrip is going on. We hope it will be ready in time. In any case, Jharsuguda (airport) is there.

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“Accommodation is a challenge. As the stadium is coming up on the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) campus, there is enough infrastructure for accommodation within the campus. We are upgrading it to the standards FIH desires. I don't think accommodation will be so much of an issue.”

Apart from hockey, Krishna said Odisha Government’s tie-up with the Swimming Federation of India (SFI) as well as its commitment to develop badminton would contribute in strengthening the sports ecosystem in the state.

“We have this high performance centre with JSW Sports. For the up-and-coming talent, we are having a good quality coaching programme. We have planned for 20 swimming training centres and many of these have already started. JSW deploys the coaches, we provide the infrastructure, housekeeping, security, overall maintenance, pool operators and life guards.

“With SFI, it's a combination of national and international events. The reason being we are investing a lot in an indoor aquatic complex. That is going to come up next year. We would like that facility to be utilised more often,” said Krishna about the swimming initiatives.

On the badminton roadmap, Krishna said, “We are coming up with a high performance centre (with a building under construction). It will be a landmark one. We are trying to see how we can have badminton centres across the state… As a next step of having annual events, the Odisha Open (a BWF event which was earlier known as Hyderabad Open) is going to come up.”