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Odisha scripting golden history in the field of sports

The state government has substantially increased its funding for sports. The state had allocated nearly Rs 100 crore in its annual budget for 2016/17, which was increased to Rs 301 crore in 2020/21. This year (2021/22), Rs 400 crore has been allocated to sports.

IANS | Bhubaneswar |


Today, if someone talks about sports especially hockey in India, perhaps he/she will not forget to mention Odisha because the eastern state of the country has been emerging as a sports hub. In fact, people have started calling Bhubaneswar the sports capital of India.

A decade ago, the Barabati Stadium — the main cricketing centre in Odisha where a few international matches have been hosted — was the only sports venue recognised by people outside the state. Not to forget some hockey players of yesteryears who kept coming from remote areas of the state, making a name for themselves on the international stage.

Though the Kalinga Stadium was there in Bhubaneswar, people were not aware of it because the platform was confined to the training of local athletes. But, now, the stadium has become a centre of excellence for sports personalities in India.

The state government has also substantially increased its funding for sports. The state had allocated nearly Rs 100 crore in its annual budget for 2016/17, which was increased to Rs 301 crore in 2020/21. This year (2021/22), Rs 400 crore has been allocated to sports. Apart from the budgetary allocation, infrastructures developments are being taken up on funding basis from other departments and agencies.

The chief minister of Odisha had rightly said, “Investment in sports is an investment in youth. Investment in youth is an investment in the future.”

The growth of Odisha as a sports hub or sports capital did not happen overnight, but a strong effort was made over a period of 7-8 years.

The state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been giving priority to the sports sector since 2013, when the state had franchised its own hockey team, Kalinga Lancers, for the Hockey India League. At that time, the state felt it necessary to have a world-class hockey facility to host the Kalinga Lancers’ matches in the Hockey India League.

Since then, the state government has never looked back when it has come to sports. The state has successfully hosted several national and international events in hockey, athletics, women’s football, rugby and table tennis.

In 2014, Bhubaneswar conducted the Hockey Champions Trophy. In 2015, the Indo-Japan Hockey series was organised in Bhubaneswar. Later in 2017, the final of the FIH Hockey World League was conducted.

Just three months before the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships, the Jharkhand government had withdrawn its assurance to host the event. It was Odisha, which came forward and successfully organised the mega sporting event, taking it as a 90-day challenge. The state has earned praise from various quarters for making the event very successful.

Similarly, in 2018, when Sahara backed out of sponsoring the Indian hockey teams, it was the Odisha government that announced it would sponsor both the men’s and women’s teams for a period of five years. Recently, the state has announced to sponsors both the teams for another 10 years.

These are a few examples that show how much importance the Patnaik government is giving to sports.

The state has also organised the Men’s Hockey World League-2017, Hockey World Cup-2018, FIH Hockey Pro-League-2020, FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers for Men and Women-2019 and Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship-2019.

In the meantime, the state government has taken up several sports infrastructure projects in various districts of Odisha.

In 2018, the Odisha government had announced the establishment and setting up of 11 High-Performance Centres (HPCs) in 10 sports disciplines with the aim to develop elite athletes and strengthen the sporting landscape in the state.

Currently, the state has high-performance centres in weightlifting, swimming, shooting, football, hockey, sports climbing, athletics and sports science along with a centre of excellence in sports management. Odisha has become the only state in India to set up a high-performance centre hub.

The state has also set up 16 sports hostels in 15 districts, and each of them runs training and coaching programmes in multiple sports curriculum for around 1,250 budding talent.

Speaking about other sports infrastructure projects being taken up by the state, Odisha Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera said, Bhubaneswar already has the iconic Kalinga hockey stadium with about 15,000 seating capacity, while the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium at Rourkela in Sundergarh district is being developed at an estimated cost of Rs 112 crore over 15 acres.

The Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 will be hosted in both Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. The government is also setting up another 20 hockey training centres at different places at a cost of Rs 200 crore, he said.

Recently, the Odisha Cabinet has approved the construction of 89 multi-purpose indoor stadiums at a total project cost of Rs 693.35 crores to be completed over the next 18 months, Behera said.

“The stadiums will have facilities for badminton, table tennis, yoga, gymnasium, etc. The indoor hall space can be utilised for most of the indoor games and can be converted as per the local popularity of various indoor sports,” the minister further said.