Odisha is all decked up for the prestigious FIH Hockey World Cup. The upcoming edition of the mega event is set to be held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29.
As teams from across the world roll into town, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the World Cup Village at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium Complex in Rourkela on Thursday (Jan 5).
Hosts India are fancied to finish on the podium. During the inauguration of the World Cup Village, the Odisha CM announced an award for the members of the Indian team if they walked away with the trophy. During the inauguration, the Odisha CM met the Indian players who are staying at the World Cup Village.
Patnaik has played a key role in turning Odisha into a hotbed for hockey. While the players thanked him for his support in helping the sport grow, Patnaik announced a reward for the players.
During his visit, Patnaik said, “Each player of Team India will be rewarded with Rs. 1 crore, if our country wins the World Cup. I wish the very best to Team India and hope they will emerge champions.”
After ending their 41-year long wait to stand on the podium at the Olympics by bagging bronze in the Tokyo Games, the Indian men’s team enter the upcoming World Cup with a weight of expectations on their shoulders.
Earlier, Indian skipper Harman Preet Singh opened up about the upcoming Hockey World Cup. “There is anticipation and excitement in equal measure,” the dragflicker told Hockey India.
“As the team bus entered the Rourkela city and drove closer to the hockey facility, there were thousands of fans who thronged the streets with tri-colour flags and cheered for us as they welcomed us into their hometown. We were simply speechless by the gesture, and it was then that we actually got a sense of how much hockey means to the people of this region,” said the Indian skipper.
The dragflicker further stated, “Until we arrived here, we had only heard about the passion and love people have for hockey here through our teammates Nilam and Amit but it was only after we witnessed the reception we received on our arrival, did we realise that this World Cup experience will be like no other.”
Starting Wednesday (Jan 4), teams have started arriving in Odisha for the coveted tournament.