Odisha looking to become a global sports destination

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The State has hosted many big-ticket events including the hockey World Cup successfully

In the last few years, Odisha, which deservedly got the Sportstar Aces award for the Best State for Promotion of Sports, has put itself on the fast forward mode to become a global sports destination.

The journey started when State-owned corporations Odisha Industrial infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) and Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) joined hands to own a franchise, Kalinga Lancers, in the Hockey India League (HIL) in 2013.

It necessitated the construction of the hockey stadium inside the sprawling Kalinga Stadium complex in Bhubaneswar.

The overwhelming response to the HIL gave birth to bigger dreams. The State hosted the prestigious Champions Trophy hockey tournament in 2014 and drew a lot of self-belief from it.

Three big ticket events — the Asian athletics championships and the Hockey World League in 2017 and the Hockey World Cup in 2018 — uplifted Odisha’s status as a hot destination of top sporting events.

Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik at the Sportstar Aces awards event

The HWC was the jewel in the crown. The State Government worked overtime to turn Kalinga Stadium into a world class venue, kick off the HWC with a magnificent opening ceremony and delivered the event with utmost perfection to win appreciation from all participating teams.

This year the State has conducted a four-nation women’s football tournament. It will host the Super Cup in March-April, the Hockey Series Finals (an Olympic qualifying event) in June, the Commonwealth table tennis championships in July and the Asian rowing championships later in the year.

Meanwhile, Odisha hosted several National-level events — such as the Super Cup football tournament, National Open athletics, Indian Super League matches and the National women’s football championship last year and the National table tennis championships this year — to underline its efficiency to organise sports events.

Odisha sponsoring the National men and women’s hockey teams is another proof of its commitment towards sports.

While highlighting his Government’s whole-hearted support for sports, Chief Minister Navin Patnaik expected other States to follow in Odisha’s footsteps and help the country achieve glory in the Olympics. “If States start adopting one or two games, it will hugely benefit the sports ecosystem in the country,” said Patnaik.

Odisha is also taking care of the grassroots development by organising tribal sports meet and talent-scouting from an informal voluntary youth group (Biju Yuva Vahini) for admission of youth to 16 sports hostels covering 12 disciplines.

Infrastructure development and increase in cash award for achievers are the other areas through which the State is promoting sports comprehensively.

The State has tied up with several legendary sportspersons — including Abhinav Bindra, P. Gopi Chand, Gagan Narang and Anil Kumble — to establish different high performance centres.

The Odisha Government, which had a budget of ₹341.08 crore last year, is determined to continue with its overall good work. By making the State a sports hub, the Government is aiming at building Odisha as a brand to attract investment opportunities and set a unique example in the country.

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