Odisha focuses on grassroots development and 2023 Hockey World Cup

Odisha Sports Secretary, Vishal K Dev, talks about the state's multiple High-Performance Centres that nurture grassroots talent and the ongoing preparations for the 2023 Hockey World Cup.

Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium

The 2023 Hockey World Cup will also see games being played at Rourkela, which is home to the country's largest hockey stadium - the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium.   -  Special Arrangement

Odisha has won the Best State for the Promotion of Sport in the 2021 edition of the Sportstar Aces Awards. Winning the award for the third time in a row highlights the state government's commitment to not only promoting sports but also hosting sporting events across disciplines. 

After successfully organising the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup, the state, known as the 'cradle of hockey', is all set to play host again to the marquee event that will be held from January 13-29, 2023.

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The 2018 edition saw the capital city of Odisha - Bhubaneswar hosting the matches. The 2023 World Cup will also see games being played at Rourkela, which is home to the country's largest hockey stadium - the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium.

This is the Odisha's third Sportstar Aces honour in a row, having won the award in 2019 and 2020 as well.   -  K.R.Deepak

 

Named after noted freedom fighter Birsa Munda, the stadium is located in Sundergarh district - the hotbed of hockey talent which has produced legends like former India skipper Dilip Tirkey. 

"It's a matter of delight that Odisha is hosting the 2023 World Cup. It fits in the vision of the Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik and it indicates the confidence that the Hockey Federation has in the Government of Odisha for successfully pulling it off for another time. It also gives us an opportunity to take the biggest tournament in hockey - the World Cup to Rourkela, the main town of Sundargarh, which is the cradle of hockey," Vishal K Dev, IAS, Principal Secretary to Government, Sports and Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha, told Sportstar in an exclusive chat.

Vishal K Dev

"Our target is to complete the pitch and the stadium tentatively by August 2022 and get it match-ready. We will host a few international matches before the World Cup," says Vishal K Dev.   -  Special Arrangement

 

He added that the world-class stadium will be ready by mid-2022. "Our target is to complete the pitch and the stadium tentatively by August 2022 and get it match-ready. We will host a few international matches before the World Cup" he said.

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With a seating capacity of 20,000, spread over 15 acres of land on the Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) campus, the new stadium will be built at a cost of INR 120 crores. The stadium will boast state-of-the-art facilities, a tunnel connecting the changing room and practice pitch along with a fitness centre and a hydro-therapy pool around the pitch. 

-Logistical challenges- 

The build-up for the stadium has been grand with meticulous planning and attention to detail. However, the government faces major logistical challenges.

The distance between Bhubaneswar and Rourkela is around 330 km and the travel time by road is around nine hours. It is highly unlikely that teams would risk travelling by road, owing to safety and security reasons. And once the teams reach Rourkela, providing standard accommodation is another challenge. 

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Currently, under the Udey Desh Ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) scheme, only a 19-seater aircraft can land at the Rourkela airport. However, with the World Cup on the horizon, the airport must have an upgraded licence with improved infrastructure. 

Dev asserted that the state government is in constant touch with the aviation authorities to get the required clearance.  

"We had discussions with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and a request has been made and we believe that the airport will be functional by the mid of next year with scheduled commercial flights before the World Cup begins," Dev said.

And on the accommodation part, the senior official said they are in talks with the local authorities.

- The evolution - 

Odisha didn't receive global recognition overnight. It started slowly with low-key tournaments but ensured it delivered events with utmost perfection. From hosting the Men's Hockey Championship in 2014 to the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in 2019, Odisha not only laid a blueprint of how to conduct events but also uplifted its sporting portfolio.

If sponsoring the National Hockey teams - both men and women - was a matter of great pride, then Odisha laying the carpet for the 2021 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was a jewel in the crown.

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When asked about the state's transformation and the secret behind bagging mega-events, Dev said: "The decision to take the Kalinga Lancers in the Hockey India League was the major turning point because the relationship with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) began at that particular point in time. That confidence has been building over the years and we have good relations with almost all federations."

To further reinforce its vision, the state government signed a series of MoUs in collaboration with several corporates and set up 11 High-Performance Centres (HPC) in 10 disciplines.

"We are just not limited to hosting events. The most important part is taking up grassroots development and for that, we have the High-Performance Centres. We have 11 HPC in 10 disciplines and our goal is to nurture grassroots talent to the elite level so that there is a proper path of progression. The path is from sports hostels to academies to regional development centres and finally to the HPC," Dev said. 

From playing host to small tournaments to organising big-ticket events, Odisha has become a hot destination of mega sporting events. And a successful 2023 World Cup will only shore up its status as the sporting capital of India.

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