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Oasis in the East: Chronicling the rise of football in Odisha

Published at :August 22, 2023 at 6:35 PM
Modified at :August 22, 2023 at 6:35 PM
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Gourav Samal


Odisha is implementing Vision 2047, a program to foster deep interest and provide necessary support to young athletes

In a country where cricket has long held the spotlight as the most popular sport, a newfound surge of interest in football culture has become a topic of considerable discussion within the sporting community. It won’t be wrong to state that the inception of the ISL (Indian Super League) has undeniably had a profound and positive impact on the psyche of football enthusiasts.

And in the meanwhile, Odisha has emerged as a prominent hub for sports in the country, encompassing diverse disciplines such as Rugby, Hockey, and now Football. The state has made significant strides in developing top-notch infrastructure to nurture football talents from the grassroots.

The major stride came in when Delhi Dynamos decided to relocate their new base to Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar ahead of the 2019-20 season of ISL.

The major stride came in when The Delhi Soccer Private Limited entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Odisha, aiming to facilitate the relocation of the club from the national capital to the vibrant city of Bhubaneswar ahead of the 2019-20 season of ISL. This resulted in the establishment of Odisha FC, a renowned football club, which has successfully garnered the attention of fellow football lovers and players alike.

Above all these, Odisha Govt., under the vision of CM Naveen Patnaik has invested around Rs 90 crores for development of Football Training Centers in Bhubaneswar.

The three centers, named as Odisha Football Academy, Bhubaneswar Football Academy and Capital Football Arena, showcase a collective of six FIFA certified pitches, comprising of five natural grass surfaces and one artificial turf. With this, it also offers various amenities, including LED lights, well-equipped players' changing rooms, galleries, gyms, and dedicated spaces for the coaches.

The three centers serves as training grounds for the National U-16 and U-19 National teams, as well as for Odisha FC and all state teams. Additionally, the centers also hosts training sessions for the U-13, U-15, and U-18 state academies.

The aforementioned initiative is aimed at engaging the younger generation within the state, encouraging them to pursue their passion and explore potential careers in the realm of football. As part of this endeavor, comprehensive grassroots development programs have been designed, catering to children between the ages from 6 to 12 years.

With this referee and coach education programs and Odisha’s School Leagues, State football leagues and Bhubaneswar’s Local Leagues are also planned out to be executed.  

Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, expressed during the inauguration of these new infrastructural developments, " "I believe that these new facilities will not only encourage the youth to pursue their passion for football, but also serve as a hub for football training in the country." In addition, he also announced a substantial reward of ₹1 crore to the victorious Indian team for their remarkable triumph in the highly regarded Intercontinental Cup 2023.

Team India after winning the Intercontinental Cup 2023 (Source: News18)

CM has also made the notable announcement of the construction of a girls' football academy with artificial turf, in the region of Aul, which falls within Kendrapara district.

“The government of Odisha is currently implementing an ambitious program called Vision-2047, with the primary objective of fostering a deep interest in sports among young individuals and providing them with the necessary support and resources to nurture their athletic abilities” stated by Sunil Mitra, who was appointed as the Indian National Team’s Coordinator and Operational In-charge for the Intercontinental Cup – 2023 by the AIFF.

Through consistent efforts and strategic initiatives, Odisha is poised to emerge as a hub of exceptional talent, not just in football but also across various sporting disciplines. The state's unwavering commitment to nurturing athletes lays a strong foundation for future successes.

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