Tough But Not Impossible: Odisha Resurrects Hockey In India Under Great Leadership

By successfully hosting the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup for the second consecutive time, Odisha has once again demonstrated its commitment for the promotion of hockey. The marquee event, packed with 44 matches of high-octane action and a plethora of cultural programmes, has put Odisha on the global sports map, showcasing world-class facilities and enduring hospitality. The FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 has been a phenomenal success, not just for the sporting history of Odisha, but for the entire nation. The response to the event as a whole has been tremendous, with players, fans and delegates from all over the world being mesmerized by the warmth of Odisha and its culture. The marquee event has created a conducive atmosphere for the resurrection of the hockey in India under the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

In the last two decades, Odisha, led by this enthusiastic and ardent hockey fan, has helped the country to regain the lost glory of hockey. Today, the country has the best of the hockey infrastructure thanks to the support handed by Naveen Patnaik.

Odisha’s tryst with Hockey has been continuing for some decades now. It has sent some of the best players to the national Men’s and Women’s teams in the last few decades. Sundargarh District has become the cradle of hockey in India today. While becoming the sports capital of the country, Odisha has added the best hockey infrastructure in the state.

Today, the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium has been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest seated hockey stadium in the world. It is Odisha’s greatest gift to the entire nation and the world. It is the shining example of a new era of transformation in Odisha.

Secretary to CM (5T) VK Pandian, who is christened as the ‘man with a mission’ in the transformation and development of Odisha, has been working relentlessly to translate the Chief Minister’s vision of building Odisha as the sports capital in the country into a reality.

Pandian, who himself is a big sports enthusiast, has played an instrumental role under the guidance of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in building the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela in record 15 months beating the toughest challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a commendable feat beyond any debate. The stadium will remain a crown jewel of hockey, transforming the country into a powerful force in the game for decades to come. It will help nurturing hockey talents to bring laurels for the country. It is the sheer commitment of VK Pandian and his hard work that made it possible for Odisha to take the game of hockey to a new level, which was otherwise quite neglected in a cricket-obsessed country.

The 5T Secretary has meticulously prepared the roadmap for successfully hosting the Hockey World Cup 2023 to put Odisha into the global map so far as promotion of hockey is concerned. In the run-up for the preparations of this biggest ever sporting event in the history of Odisha, Pandian has made several rounds of field visits to Kalinga Stadium and Birsa Munda Stadium to minutely review everything. Not only that, he held live interactions with sports lovers, experts and people on his social media platforms to take their suggestions regarding the hosting of the Hockey World Cup 2023 and implemented them quite efficiently.

Hockey in Odisha is more than a sport; it’s a way of life. No wonder, Odisha has produced some of India’s finest hockey players. Perhaps, Odisha is the only state in the country, which is not just promoting a sport within its boundaries but supports and nurtures the sportspersons from across the country.

Transformation of sports is an integral part of the 5T Initiatives of the Government of Odisha. Leading the initiatives from the front, Pandian has been playing a major role for the promotion of sports at the grassroots level.

In order to promote hockey at the grassroots level, the State Government has set up AstroTurfs in all 17 blocks in Sundargarh district, the cradle of hockey in India. Nine more astro turfs will come up in the State. The High Performance Centres at the Kalinga Stadium Sports Complex, world class sports infrastructure and hosting of International tournaments are a part of the transformation that is Odisha is witnessing in the field of Sports.

The Government has also launched the ‘Mo School Hockey Club’ initiative in all districts as a step towards the development and grooming of grassroots talents in Hockey.

For his outstanding contribution to hockey, VK Pandian has been conferred with the prestigious FIH President’s Award during a ceremony held on eve of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023.

While presenting the award, FIH President Tayyab Ikram has rightly said, “What we have witnessed here in Odisha in the last 2 weeks is truly exceptional! Not only the state-of-the-art facilities but also the passion showcased by the Odisha people for hockey – as much for the Indian team as for the others – has been an absolute delight to experience. Together with Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik, Mr. Pandian has played a pivotal role in making this World Cup such a resounding success globally! I’m very honored to present him the FIH President’s Award as a mark of deep gratitude from FIH and myself for his personal support and that of the State of Odisha”.

On receiving the prestigious award, Pandian said, “I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive the FIH President’s Award. I am not the recipient of this Award, I am only the representative of Team Odisha which has put its heart and soul in making this World Cup a grand success. We are inspired by the vision of Hon’ble Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik”.

The state government has been contributing generously for the development of the game by building mini stadiums in each and every corner of the state. The state run sports hostels are churning out the bright players of tomorrow. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s eagerness to promote the National Game of the country is clearly visible in his efforts in the last two decades. He has also entrusted the development of the sports infrastructure in the able and experienced hands of officers who are leaving no stone unturned.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s vision to build Odisha as sports capital of the country and his team restlessly working to achieve this vision is paying rich dividends to the State in terms of attracting the attention of the investors towards Odisha. From investment perspectives, the State Government’s efforts to promote sports have proven to be instrumental in boosting a diverse of sectors. The recently concluded ‘Make in Odisha Conclave 2022’ is a testimony to it. Odisha garnered a whopping Rs 10.5 trillion investment proposals from business tycoons from across the country.

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