Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium
Recently, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the world’s largest dedicated hockey stadium in Rourkela, Odisha. The Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium (BMHS) was built at a cost of over Rs 260 crore in a record 15 months and has the capacity to host over 20,000 spectators. The BMHS will host 20 of the 44 matches of the Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup, which is set to begin on January 13. The remaining matches will be held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Infrastructure and Facilities
- The BMHS is equipped with world-class infrastructure and facilities. It includes a practice pitch, fitness center, hydrotherapy pool, dressing and changing rooms, and a 225-room residential complex with five-star accommodations capable of housing 400 players.
- The complex, which was developed in a record nine months, is expected to offer a holistic environment for the participating World Cup teams.
- Taj Group has been enlisted by Hockey India to offer hospitality services that reflect the culture of Odisha for the Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup.
- The Chief Minister stated that the BMHS is the most valued gift of Odisha to the nation and a glory for the state. He added that the stadium will serve as the main center for international hockey and provide opportunities for players from around the world to showcase their talent.
Promotion of Hockey in Odisha
The Odisha government, under the leadership of CM Naveen Patnaik, has actively encouraged and funded the promotion of hockey in the state in recent years. In 2018, when the Indian national men’s and women’s hockey teams were struggling to find a sponsor, Patnaik stepped forward to offer support. As a result, both teams made it to the semifinals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with the men’s team winning the bronze medal, their first medal in almost four decades.
In preparation for the Hockey World Cup, the government has constructed the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, the world’s largest hockey stadium, and decked up both Bhubaneswar and Rourkela for the event. The mascot for the FIH Odisha Hockey World Cup is ‘Olly’, an Olive Ridley sea turtle that travels to the coast of Odisha to nest every year.
Sundergarh District and Hockey
The Sundergarh district in Odisha, which is predominantly tribal, has a long association with hockey. Located in a region that was once part of the Maoist Red-corridor, Sundergarh has become known as the ‘Cradle of Indian Hockey’. The district has produced five national captains of the Indian hockey team and over 60 international players.
Some believe that the natural soil and rock in the limestone belt of the Chotanagpur plateau, with its high calcium content, strengthens the bones and provides energy to the people of the area, making them well-suited for playing hockey. The sport has become a cultural identity for tribal communities such as the Orams, Kharia, Munda, and Bhuniya, and even elderly people in these villages can be seen playing the game.
Three players from Sundergarh – Deep Grace Ekka, Amit Rohidas, and Birendra Lakra – represented India at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The Odisha government has also organized a series of promotional events to encourage public interest in the sport and the trophy of the Hockey World Cup toured 16 states before arriving in Odisha on 27 December.
Support for Indian Hockey Team
Prior to the inauguration of the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, CM Naveen Patnaik met with the Indian Hockey Team and pledged to award Rs 1 Crore to each member of the team if they win the Hockey World Cup 2023. This commitment demonstrates the state government’s support for the team and its belief in their ability to succeed on the international stage.