Odisha to be sports hub soon
Bhubaneswar, --- For a quite long time , Indians have complained about the lack of facilities for sports. Absence of quality infrastructure, lack of adequate funding, improper integration of sports science, failure to harness raw talents have all been cited as reasons for India's under performance at big events. Come to Odisha and all of this seems to have been addressed.
If you come to Kalinga stadium compound, it marks the start of what is now being talked about by many as the "Odisha model". " I am from Australia and have worked across the world but in no other country do you see this level of infrastructure in one precinct , not even in Australia", says David John , who's credited for India's hockey success in Tokyo and is now the high performance director in Odisha. The state could soon become the hub of Indian sport.
The infrastructure is just not restricted to Bhubaneswar. Even Rourkela , which does't have the best air connectivity , has five synthetic pitches for hockey for which the sport is making so much progress in the region. The Rourkela's Birsa Munda stadium is an architectural marvel and has become a local landmark. The high performance center (HPC) and grassroot academies are all working in sync to harness tribal talent from the region. It is no surprise that stars like Jyoti Chhatri and Sunelita Toppo are coming through the ranks and making a mark at the international arena.
" When we started playing hockey, we had no access to facilities, and look at things now. There has been a sea change and it is natural you will see a huge impact", said Dilip Tirkey, a son of the soil and president of Hockey India, who represented the country as Hockey captain for a long time.
Not only that infrastructure isn't just restricted to hockey . There are HPCs for shooting, badminton, weightlifting, tennis football and there are integrated with the sports science centers (SSC) on campus , run by the Abhinav Bindra and his team.
Use of GPS technology continues to be rare in India. But in Odisha , it is being used at all age groups, from sub-junior to junior and senior. " You can't expose the athletes to sport science when they are already in the national team . You need to measure their parameters as they grow . Only then you can objectively measures fitness and performance", said Rajiv Seth , former Bengal fast bowler and the man in charge of the Hockey HPC. Using this technology gives exact details of the fitness levels of every athlete and as a result selection is no longer subjective.
Pullela Gopichand is in charge of the badminton facility . The athletes and the corporates are responsible for providing coaches and imparting scientific training while the government provides them the right infrastructure .
At the root of every sporting revolution is investment. At the turn of the millennium , Odisha sports budget was just Rs 4 crores. It has now reached Rs 1217 crores . This budget is expected to touch Rs 1500 crores in the near future. Odisha government is sponsorting the men's and women's hockey teams at the senior and junior levels , it is also offering support to sports like Rugby in which a lot of players come from the region.