People were unaware of the existence of the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha because the platform was limited to the training of local athletes. However, this stadium has since become a training ground for the country’s athletes.
Simultaneously, the state government has significantly boosted its financing for sports. It had set aside almost Rs 100 crore in its annual budget for 2016-17, which has now been raised to Rs 301 crore for 2020-21. The industry has been given Rs 400 crore for the fiscal year (2021-22). Apart from financial allocations, infrastructure development is supported by financing from various departments and agencies.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik correctly stated, “Investment in sports is an investment in youth. Investing in young people is an investment in the future.”
Odisha’s rise as a sports center or capital did not come suddenly but took a concerted effort over a seven to eight-year period.
Under Patnaik’s leadership, the state government prioritized sports, and in 2013, it franchised its own hockey club, the Kalinga Lancers, for the Hockey India League. The state thought it was important at the time to have a world-class hockey venue to host the Kalinga Lancers’ Hockey India League matches.
When it comes to sports, the state government has never looked back since. Many national and international sporting events in hockey, athletics, women’s football, rugby, and table tennis had been held successfully in the state.
The Hockey Champions Trophy was held in Bhubaneswar in 2014. The Indo-Japan Hockey Series was held in Bhubaneswar in 2015. Later that year, the FIH Hockey World League final was held.
The Jharkhand government withdrew its commitment to host the 22nd Asian Athletics Championships just three months before the tournament. Odisha stepped forward and successfully organized the big athletic event, viewing it as a 90-day challenge. The state has received accolades from a variety of sources for its role in making the event a huge success.
Similarly, when Sahara dropped out of sponsoring the Indian hockey teams in 2018, it was the Odisha government that announced a five-year sponsorship of both the men’s and women’s teams. The state just stated that it will continue to support both teams for the next ten years.
These are two instances of how much significance the Patnaik government places on sports.
The state also hosted the Men’s Hockey World League in 2017, the Hockey World Cup in 2018, the FIH Hockey Pro-League in 2020, the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers for Men and Women in 2019, and the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in 2019.
Meanwhile, the state government has initiated a number of sports infrastructure projects around Odisha.
Across 2018, the Odisha government announced the development of 11 High-Performance Centres (HPCs) in 10 sports disciplines, with the goal of developing top athletes and strengthening the state’s athletic scene.
Currently, the state has high-performance centers for weightlifting, swimming, shooting, football, hockey, sports climbing, athletics, and sports science, as well as a sports management center of excellence. Odisha is the first state in India to have established a high-performance center hub.
Odisha has also established 16 sports hostels in 15 districts, each of which runs a training and coaching program in multiple sports curriculum for approximately 1,250 budding talent who are identified and selected from a state-wide talent identification program, which is especially conducted in interior pockets with support from gram panchayat and block officials, coaches and talent-spotters, associations, and District Sports Officers. Athletes can also advance through a solid talent pipeline into high-performance centers.
In terms of other sports infrastructure projects being undertaken by the state, Odisha Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera stated that Bhubaneswar already has the iconic Kalinga hockey stadium, which has approximately 15,000 seating capacity, and that the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, Sundergarh district, is being developed at an estimated cost of Rs 112 crore, spread across 15 acres of land.
Both Bhubaneswar and Rourkela will host the Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2023. He further stated that the government is constructing additional 20 hockey training centers around the country at a cost of Rs 200 crores.
The Odisha Cabinet recently approved the building of 89 multi-purpose indoor stadiums at a total project cost of Rs 693.35 crore, which would be completed over the next 18 months, according to Behera.
“The stadiums will feature facilities for badminton, table tennis, yoga, gymnasiums, and other sports. “The indoor hall area can be used for the majority of indoor activities and can be modified based on the local popularity of various indoor sports,” the Minister added.
Odisha has a large pool of talent, and the Sports and Youth Services Department organizes state-level training camps for under-18 athletes in preparation for the Khelo India Youth Games and National Championships.
Weightlifting, kho kho, judo, and yoga training camps are underway, and the leading Odia gymnasts are receiving help at their training center. The mallakhamb and cycling training camps would begin soon, he added (Kalinga Stadium).
“The state has not just prioritized hockey, but it has also prioritized other sports. “Recently, the state decided to build indoor stadiums in metropolitan areas to encourage kids to participate in sports,” said sprinter Dutee Chand.
According to her, the high-performance centers would also assist aspiring sportsmen in the early recuperation of any injuries.(Kalinga Stadium)