FIH World Cup: Odisha does groundwork, sows love for stick play
Catch ’em young — that seems to be the motto of the Odisha government as it tries to infuse the spirit of hockey among youngsters during the ongoing FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup.
Led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Odisha has taken a number of initiatives to ensure that youngsters can witness world-class hockey as Bhubaneswar and Rourkela host the mega event. Apart from inspiring students to take up the game, it is also helping the World Cup organisers to fill up stadiums.
School students are being taken to stadiums in both the cities in large numbers. Besides, the government has asked colleges to spend Rs 25,000 from their development fund to arrange LCD TV screens to enable the students to watch the live telecast of the matches.
“It’s a great moment for us. We are enjoying our job of taking students of different schools to the stadium to watch the matches. The students are enjoying it. It’s a great opportunity for them to see world-class players in action,” Subas Chandra Das Rout, cluster resources centre coordinator, told The Telegraph.
The headmaster of UNIT 9 government high school, Bijay Behera, said: “The state government has given passes to us. While students are going to see the matches, we also show them live telecast of the games being played during school time. The students are also being encouraged to play hockey.”
The state government has also asked the college authorities to install LCD screens. “The instruction regarding the installation of large-scale logos and display of posters in your campus already communicated should be followed scrupulously,” the order from the state government said.
Now college students are being asked by the authorities to come to college even in the evening and watch the live telecast of the matches. “There is a provision to give snacks to students and we are doing it. There is a lot of enthusiasm among students to see the matches,” Dr Sanjay Mohanty of Maharishi College of Natural Law told this newspaper.
And the students too are loving the experience. “It’s great to see the matches here in the hockey stadium. We are closely watching the matches of India (the first two have been played in Rourkela) on TV,” said Aditi Mohanty, a Class X student of UNIT 8 DAV School in Bhubaneswar.
Besides, story-telling sessions are being organised at four parks in Bhubaneswar for students. No surprises there that most of the stories are themed on hockey. Huge posters and billboards displaying photos of hockey players had already been put up across the state.
Time will tell if India, who last won the World Cup in 1975, lift the title this time, but Odisha seems to have already won it.