Bhubaneswar, which has of late, become a hub for hockey, is set to come up with High Performance Centres for athletics and hockey besides a state-of-the-art badminton academy, to be run by celebrated coach Pullela Gopichand.
The capital city of the coastal state has hosted important international events such the Hockey Champions Trophy in 2014, Hockey World League Final and Asian Athletics Championships last year.
Bhubaneswar is also set to host the men’s hockey World Cup from November 28 to December 16 this year and preparations for the mega-event are all but over with the unveiling of the refurbished Kalinga Stadium by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday evening.
“The total budget spent on renovating the stadium for the World Cup is about 82 crores,” Vishal Dev, Sports and Tourism Secretary of the Odisha government, said.
“The Chief Minister gives a lot of priority to sports and the idea now is to move towards strengthening sports at grassroots level. Our High Performance Centre for athletics hopefully should be launched in about two months. We are looking at High Performance Centre for hockey also.”
“We have now become the base for the U-15 national football team. We are also the base for the Indian Arrows team. Of course hosting events is important but at the same time we would like to focus on strengthening the grassroots, identifying talent and nurturing them, not just from Odisha but the entire country.
Dev revealed that they have signed an MoU with the Gopichand Academy.
“The work for that should start in about three months and the academy should be operational by 18 months,” he said.
Dev added that the state government has already signed an MoU with the International Association of Athletics Associations (IAAF) and Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for the High Performance Centre for athletics.
Dev said the government will build the infrastructure for the facilities and won’t interfere in their functioning as long as they are professionally run.
“We have identified a piece of land and we will be supporting the building and infrastructure required and then hand it over to Gopichand to run it. Across all the academies we are planning we are very clear that we will not get into running them,” he said.
“We would like a professional person or team to run the academies. We would ensure that there is no interference from our side as long as they are being run professionally.”
The official also informed that Bhubaneswar is in line to host two more international hockey tournaments next year but did not provide details.
“The discussions are on but not yet confirmed. Once it is confirmed we will announce them,” Dev said.
Expressing satisfaction over their preparation for the World Cup, Dev said Bhubaneswar is all geared up to host the meg-event.
“We are fully prepared. Everyone who comes for the World Cup, we are looking to give them a brilliant experience,” he said.
“We have got two new galleries -- north and south. All the official rooms, lounges have come up. We have got two new gates -- Gate no.3 and 4. Now there is also a double lane road inside the complex. Parking and lightening of the stadium have been improved. The idea of two new gates is to ensure smoother entry and exits of spectators.”
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