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At last, eligible to play

- Arena plan boost to indoor sports

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 9: The city’s first indoor stadium is coming up near the East Coast Railway stadium.

The construction of the project, a railway venture, began in May. The railways have set September 2013 as the deadline for its completion.

To be built on around nine acres, it will be a replica of the Indian Railways’ indoor stadium in Guwahati. The NF Railway Indoor Stadium in the northeastern town is supposed to be one of the best indoor sports facilities set up by the Indian Railways in the country. With a seating capacity of 1,500, the stadium has hosted several important sports events, especially basketball.

The 33rd National Games in sepak takraw (a sport native to the Malay-Thai peninsula. Sepak takraw differs from volleyball in its use of a rattan ball and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. It is popular in Southeast Asia) were held there in 2007.

Sources said the indoor stadium in the state capital would replicate the playing area and design of the Guwahati stadium.

The upcoming sporting facility here will have a seating capacity of 3,200 and a playing area of 36ft by 24ft. Apart from galleries, the stadium will also have a conference hall and a dedicated parking space.

“This will help us organise national-level championships for badminton, table tennis and volleyball. Once the stadium is ready, we can host two volleyball matches in it at a time,” said a senior railway official.

The project, with an estimated cost of Rs 10.2 crore, was sanctioned last year and its construction began in May. Sources in the East Coast Railway headquarters said a budgetary provision of nearly Rs 4 crore has been made for execution of the project during the financial year 2012-13.

So far, the city has only one sports complex at Kalinga Stadium, which hosts major sporting events. Apart from this there are very few indoor halls where one can organise indoor games such as table tennis and badminton. With this new indoor stadium coming up, the city will be able to host major sporting events.

Indoor sports lovers of the state said the state needed a full-fledged indoor stadium in the state capital. “Although we have an indoor stadium in Cuttack, national-level indoor games cannot be hosted there as Cuttack lacks good accommodation facilities.

The playing area at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium is not adequate for hosting national-level games such as basketball and volleyball,” said secretary of Odisha Basketball Association Ashok Kumar Sahu.

At present, the state has only one centrally air-conditioned indoor stadium at Cuttack. The state government had built the Jawaharlal Nehru indoor stadium to accommodate 5,626 spectators.

Sports lovers in the state are also in favour of another indoor stadium. “Volleyball is an indoor game, but lack of indoor stadiums in the state forces our players to play outdoors. We are unable to host the national volleyball championship because of lack of infrastructure,” said secretary of the Odisha Volleyball Association Pradeep Kumar Mohanty.

He added that the railway indoor stadium would strengthen the indoor sports infrastructure in the state.