FIH Hockey

Odisha Sports : Riders Of The Storm

June 17, 2019

Odisha has been promoting sports like no other state in the country and as a result its capital Bhubaneswar is being referred to as the ‘Sports Capital of India.’ It all trickles down from the vision of our Hon’ble Chief Minister, Mr. Naveen Patnaik, who believes in the idea of “Sports for Youth, Youth for Future.”

It therefore comes as no surprise that we successfully hosted the FIH Men’s Series Finals, just a month after Cyclone Fani which was a category 4 cyclone.

Of the last century’s 1019 cyclonic disturbances that hit the Indian subcontinent, almost 90% (890) have hit the eastern coast while Odisha experienced 260 of them (25% of the total disaster faced by India), the worst being the Super Cyclone in 1999 which claimed 10,000 lives.

We learnt our lessons and put out our best foot forward in terms of early evacuation and disaster impact management which restricted casualties to 64 this time.

The damage in the aftermath of  the cyclone which left the State with disrupted infrastructure, damage to property and essential resources, has been much beyond our estimates. The initial extent of damages based on detailed assessment is around Rs. 12,000 crore. At this juncture, everyone has come together to take part in the rebuilding process.

Damage to property and resources might have crippled but the spirit of the people of Odisha has shone through in the aftermath of the Category 4 Cyclone. There are unsung heroes at every nook and cranny working in the scorching heat to get things back on track, from power to water to food. With the efforts of various government agencies, Bhubaneswar fully returned to normalcy within ten days of the calamity, sans a million trees though.

Just six months ago, the city of Bhubaneswar was buzzing with players and tourists as we hosted the most successful ever Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. We had refurbished the stadium in record time to turn it into a state-of-the-art venue for this Hockey extravaganza. We increased the capacity from an earlier 8000 to 15,000 with the number of stands increased to four, relaid turf at both the main arena and practice facility, re-designed four dressing rooms, the press as well as hospitality boxes. In fact, not just the stadium but the entire city underwent beautification with the efforts from the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited, Bhubaneswar Development Authority and Works Department.

During the testing times of the Cyclone, Kalinga stadium didn’t just host sporting events, but also sheltered the people living in shanties from the storm. In the aftermath, massive arrangements were made by the Special Relief Commissioner and Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) to provide relief to the affected families. Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) had setup a base at Kalinga Stadium on the 2nd of May for airdropping of relief material in the aftermath which included – _Chuda_ (rice snack item eaten along with jaggery and sugar), jaggery, water bottle, candles, match box, biscuit packets, salt and basic first-aid medicine for ailments such as dysentery, fever, cold, etc.

IDCO control room was setup at the stadium on 5th of May for the distribution of all relief material received from non-affected areas for setup of temporary shelters (tarpolines, solar lights, asbestos, DG sets, water drums, etc.).

Tata Steel and Tata Power set up a control room at Kalinga Stadium along with the disaster relief force for restoration of power supply and road clearance at Puri, Khorda and Bhubaneswar.

Kalinga stadium’s infrastructure wasn’t spared by Fani and the winds damaged our Athletics stadium (rooftop was blown away) as well as the main hockey stadium which sustained some minor damage. Teams from IDCO and the Works Department completed the necessary repairs and restoration work on a war footing at the hockey complex in Kalinga stadium and left no stone unturned to make it fit in time. After all, we are the ‘Sports Capital’ of India in the true sense.

In the recently concluded FIH Men’s Series Finals, we facilitated free entry for the spectators to East, North and South stands of the Kalinga Stadium for all morning games. We were delighted to welcome visitors from outside the state to soak in the atmosphere and travel a bit around the state. The state of Odisha has pioneered ‘Sports Tourism’, and this time too the teams went around the temples and beaches in their off time.

All’s well that ends well. The fans had a great time cheering for their favourite teams and the fact that India emerged as a champion in a packed stadium, speaks volumes about how sports unites in adverse times.

Vishal K. Dev is the Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Odisha Sports and Odisha Tourism with the Government of Odisha


FIH Hockey