As Odisha gears up to host consecutive Men's Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29 next year, a wave of excitement can be seen among the children of the Sundergarh district.
The Sundergarh district is regarded as the 'cradle of hockey', as this is not only a sport but also a way of life here. The district has produced many international players starting from Dilip Tirkey, Lazarus Barla, Amit Rohidas, Deep Grace Ekka and many more.
Boys and girls of the Sundergarh district have been enthusiastic about playing hockey and they are even getting full support from their families.
"Children over here are extremely passionate about hockey. It has happened since India got the medal in Olympics last year. Apart from these children, the parents are also excited about their children playing hockey," local coach, Damo Kishan told ANI.
"We are extremely grateful to our Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his efforts to promote the sport in the state. It's the second time that Odisha will be hosting the World Cup and it's a really proud moment for us," he added.
Regarding the construction of constructing India's largest hockey stadium, Birsa Munda International in Rourkela, the coach said that he is really pleased and thankful to the government for their never-ending support.
Meanwhile, the children also expressed their gratefulness to the Chief Minister and their coach for guiding them.
"I have been playing hockey for two years now. Earlier, I used to see boys going out and playing and that inspired me to play. Seeing me, other girls of our neighbourhood also stepped out of their homes and started playing," said 15-year old, Arati Sahoo.
"I would like to thank Naveen Patnaik Ji for promoting hockey and also our coaches, who train and guide us to perform better," she added.
The 'Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium' in Rourkela will be having a 20,000 seating capacity, making it India's largest hockey stadium. The stadium has been named after freedom fighter 'Birsa Munda.' (ANI)