How Odisha is being a sport in all departments

The manner in which the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are successfuly hosting big-ticket events is an indication of Odisha’s increasing presence on the national sporting map.

Girls from the Kalinga Stadium Sports Hostel often play football at the practice ground in Bhubaneswar.   -  FILE PHOTO/BISWARANJAN ROUT

 

At a time when a majority of state governments are struggling to create the perfect chain that would lead to success in sport, the Government of Odisha seems to be getting it right. Perhaps on every count.

The manner in which the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are successfuly hosting big-ticket events is an indication of Odisha’s increasing presence on the national sporting map. That’s not all. The state government has been actively planning and executing what Vishal Dev, the Commissioner-cum-Secretary of the state’s sports ministry, refers to as “holistic development”.

READ| Odisha government signs MoU to host Commonwealth TT

“It was the Honourable Chief Minister’s (Naveen Patnaik) vision. He gave a saying that sports for youth, youth for future. It was his desire to connect more strongly with the youth. What better way to connect than sports!,” Dev told Sportstar after Cuttack successfully hosted the 21 Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship, which saw paddlers from 14 countries vying for the honours.

Vineel Krishna, the Director, elaborated on the three-pronged strategy of the sports ministry in order to connect youth and get Odisha on the sporting map.

“When such events happen, for example today you had (G.) Sathiyan, Sharath (Kamal), Manika (Batra) — the kids get to watch the best in the sport in action and get inspired from such events. Besides inspiration, the infrastructure is also maintained and utilised,” says Krishna.

Manika Batra in action at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in Cuttack.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

 

“Every time you organise these events, we upgrade the infrastructure. And also, the city also gets maintained and upgraded. So there are multiple benefits to it. Tourism also gets a boost with so many players, officials coming over to Odisha from various parts of the world and they also talk about it, which is an indirect promotion of the state.”

In order to create infrastructure, maintain it and help its benefits trickle down to the remotest parts of the state, the Odisha government has initiated seven to eight High Performance Centres (HPC) in Bhubaneswar. What’s unique about these centres is the perfect wedding of three of the most crucial components of sports vertical: the government creates and provides infrastructure, a prominent sports personality or his management agency brings his expertise in devising coaching programme and a corporate pitching in with the financial aid.

ALSO READ| Odisha recognised as Best State for the Promotion of Sports

“We are aware besides hosting big events, we need to build the grassroots and build a pipeline from grassroots to HPC. The Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance (ABTP) is a part of the seven to eight initiatives we have taken,” says Krishna. “It’s a unique effort where we have tried to bring in a sportsperson or a management agency and a corporate because many corporates want to be involved in sport but don’t know how to do it. Whereas the government has an advantage of creating infrastructure. We are not good at running coaching programmes. We are trying to get all these three factors together.”

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Olympian shooter Abhinav Bindra at the inauguration of Abhinav Bindra Target Performance complex at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar.   -  FILE PHOTO/ PTI

 

The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar is becoming a major sports hub in the country. It hosts the ABTP — a sports science centre that’s supported by a mining company; an athletics HPC in partnership with IMG Reliance; Anil Kumble Tenvic developing weightlifting HPC with a mining corporate as sponsor; JSW group partnering in the swimming HPC; Tatas supporting the hockey academy and Olympic medal-winner Gagan Narang setting up the shooting HPC with the Birla group’s support.

“We are looking at the whole ecosystem, not just host events, that would lead to helping the aspiring sportspersons in 16 sports hostels across the state,” says Dev.

Time will tell whether the Government of Odisha ends up setting an example for other states to follow.