Sports is a priority sector in Odisha; Continuous efforts key to unlocking states potential: Sports Minister Odisha

New Delhi: Mr Tusharkanti Behera, Minister for Sports & Youth Services, Govt. of Odisha today said that Odisha, under the leadership of its Chief Minister has aligned itself with the national goal for the development of sports and made it a priority sector.

Addressing a webinar on ‘India’s Podium Dream: The Odisha Story’ organized by FICCI to commemorate the National Sports Day 2020, Mr Behera said, “Continuous effort is the key to unlocking our potential. We have focussed on the development of sports infrastructure, hosted mega sporting events, and set up high-performance centres for various sports disciplines for nurturing the future champions. We have also collaborated with the leading corporates and sports legends.”

Mr Behera said that Odisha has set a high standard for hosting sports events, like the Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup in 2018 and the Asian Athletics Championships of 2017.

He further mentioned that investing in infrastructure, grassroots program and hosting national and international events have now become an integral part of our sporting journey. “The voyage of Odisha towards becoming one of India’s finest sporting hub, is a work in progress,” Mr Behera added.

Mr Vishal Kumar Dev, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Sports & Youth Services, Govt of Odisha, said, “Sports is a unique and important connective tissue that binds people together, both across and within societies.” Odisha has a clear intention of becoming a global sports destination and we endeavour to see the growth of the entire sports ecosystem, not limiting ourselves to hosting big-ticket events, he said.

Speaking on the concept of the High Performing Centres, Mr Dev said that it is designed on the lines of several developed nations as these centres nurture young talents from the grassroot level.

Elaborating on this further, he said that India is in a cusp of a sporting revolution. The primary focus is to make the high-performance centres functional in the common end facilities, which is a model designed jointly with the government, corporates, and sporting legends. We want to focus on games which are played in the Olympics and produce sportsperson for international competition, he said.

Mr Pullela Gopichand, Chief Coach, Indian Badminton team & Founder, Pullela Gopichand Academy said that the ability of decision making, clarity of thought and an entire ecosystem led by the highest authority of a state working together towards one dream, is what makes Odisha special.

He added that technology is being used to help monitor, track, and adjust training modules as well as assist in the proper development of athletes today.

Mr Abhinav Bindra, Olympic Gold Medallist & Founder, Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre said that the entire ecosystem of sports in Odisha, the nimbleness of decision making and the understanding of athletic development, is what makes the state of Odisha unique. “They are professionals, authentic and accountable to their profession which leads to an environment which fosters high performance,” he added.

Mr Dilip Tirkey, Former Indian Hockey Captain & Chairperson of Odisha Hockey Promotion Council, said that hockey is a passion amongst the tribal kids of Odisha. To provide opportunities for tribal children to develop into professional hockey players, urgent focus is needed towards grassroots sports development in India, he noted.

Mr Sanjog Gupta, Chair, FICCI Sports Committee & Sports Products Head, Star India, said that Odisha govt has adopted sports in a way no other state has done. The innovative model of sporting governance where they are partnering with former athletes, is a unique step. He further added that the state govt across India and administrations must adopt this model of sporting governance. “There is a need to realize the existence of soft power in sports, not just in terms of being a beacon of hope for the society but also as an endorsement for the state itself,” noted Mr Gupta.

Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI, said that the focus of Odisha on creating new infrastructure for various athletic events compliments its efforts to support and enable sportsmen to progress and excel, is unparallel. He further said, we hope that Odisha would consider a policy to attract sports goods manufacturers to invest in the state.