Bhubaneswar hosts Asia’s first Ekamra International Sports Literature Festival

The inaugural edition of the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival, organised by the Government of Odisha and Emerging Sports, boasts some big names from the Indian and international sport.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik (centre) inaugurated the festival.   -  Ekamra International Sports Literature Festival

Sports has always produced some outstanding literature. Let alone books or biographies, sometimes you would find beautifully written pieces on sport in newspapers or magazine. So beautiful, they are no less than literature.

So, a literary festival for sport is not a bad idea, at all. One such festival got underway in some style at the Mayfair Convention Centre, here, on Friday.

The inaugural edition of the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival, organised by the Government of Odisha and Emerging Sports, boasts some big names from the Indian and international sport. Among them are former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, hockey guru Ric Charlesworth, multiple gold-medal winning Olympian swimmer Stephanie Rice, fast-bowling legend Jeff Thomson, Indian Test batsman Ajinkya Rahane and former Test players Mohammed Kaif and Akash Chopra.

Authors who have written sports books like Richard Moore and Bharat Sundaresan are also among the speakers. “I felt it would be nice to have stars and authors together at the festival,” says Sundeep Mishra, the festival director.

“I have been thinking about having a festival of this kind in India for quite some time and was delighted when Sports Secretary of Odisha government agreed to conduct it here as an annual event. This year, we are doing it as part of the hockey World Cup, which this city is hosting.”

Among the popular sessions on day one was a session featuring Charlesworth, who gave insights into coaching, with special reference to hockey, of course. The discussion on hyperandrogenism, in which Santhi Soundarajan an Australian middle-distance runner Madeleine Pape, was also lively.

Akash Chopra spoke on his books Numbers Don’t Lie: 61 Hidden Cricket Stories. The session featuring former hockey greats Ajit Pal Singh, Dhanraj Pillai and Dilip Tirkey and Australia’s Olympic gold-medalist Brent Livermore was also an interesting one.

Earlier, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the festival.