• Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Kalinga Stadium basks in celebration as World Cup fever grips Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar’s pride, the iconic Kalinga Stadium was the centre of the sporting world on Thursday night as it played host to four highly-anticipated games, in the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar- Rourkela, including the much-awaited India vs Wales clash that ended in a 4-2 victory for India. Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik graced the event along with the Governor of Odisha, Prof. Ganeshi Lal and the Minister of Youth Welfare and Sports Development of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Udhayanidhi Stalin. Also, in attendance through the day were numerous other prominent guests such as Deputy High Commissioner for Great Britain in Kolkata, Nicholas David Low, Chief Justice of Odisha, S. Muralidhar and Deepa Malik, the first Indian woman to win a medal in Paralympic Games. The members of the Target Olympics Podium Scheme and Mission Olympic cell were also present.

As India played their first game in Bhubaneswar in the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar- Rourkela, the fanfare in the city reached fever pitch as fans from all over the country were in Bhubaneswar to witness the action live and see their favourite players. A sea of blue enveloped the stadium, packed to the rafters with over 15,000 fans in attendance.

A positive energy permeated the atmosphere and it culminated in goosebumps as thousands of Indian fans sang in unison when the teams lined up for the National Anthem.

The fans also witnessed another milestone; One of the largest formations of a human red ribbon, by students of red ribbon clubs and people infected with HIV, at the Kalinga Stadium. A powerful initiative by the National AIDS Control Society and Odisha State. The initiative served as a reminder of the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS. The presence of the ribbon in the stand not only raised awareness about the disease, but also served as a symbol of hope and solidarity for those who are living with HIV.

The Mission Olympic Council met for the first time outside of Delhi on the side-lines of this crucial fixture. The council includes some of India’s finest athletes such as Viren Rasquinha, Trupthi Murgunde, Anju Bobby George, Trupthi Murgunde and CEO of the GoSports Foundation, Deepthi Bopaiah.

Viren Rasquinha, former hockey player and captain of the Indian national team, was full of praise for the facilities at the Kalinga Stadium and the electrifying atmosphere at the 2023 Men’s FIH Odisha Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar. Kudos to the Odisha government and Hockey India for organizing this event. The infrastructure, the branding, the facilities available are all world class. This is the best World Cup yet and I wish this was the standard when I was playing.”

Anju Bobby George, the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics. said, “TOPS (Target Olympics Podium Scheme) is always behind the Indian Hockey Team, and I’m really glad and grateful to get a chance to watch the game here at the Kalinga Stadium.”

Trupthi Murgunde, member of the MOC, also shared her excitement at being present at this occasion, “It is a fabulous move to meet in Bhubaneshwar while the Hockey World Cup is going on, the atmosphere is rocking and the city is so beautifully lit up. You can feel the ‘josh’ in the air.”

The Indian team will be back in action in Bhubaneswar on the 22nd of January, where they will take on New Zealand. A win for either side will secure a place for them in the quarter finals.

Source: FIH & Hockey India

Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee

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