Former Japanese striker Ippei Fujimoto rued the fact that he missed out on the complete tour of Hockey World Cup Village. Having represented his country in 57 matches, Fujimoto was running between Bhubaneswar and Rourkela tracking Japan’s matches as a reporter during the 2023 FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup.
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The two years that he spent with Japan’s national side; it was only at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games that he witnessed the concept of a Games Village. Fujimoto, however, was stunned at the Village being introduced during a World Cup.
The Hockey World Cup Village comprising 255 rooms, two dining halls, one 24-hour café, games room with table tennis and pool tables was a not-seen-before facility.
“Odisha has raised the bar with this concept,” said Spanish manager Cesar Hernandez, who was spotted at the café with his iPad making notes on his team’s progress during the league stages.
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For New Zealand’s captain Nic Woods it was an “excellent experience”. “It’s special thing to have. It’s similar to going to the Olympics, which the model is broadly based on. You get to mix and mingle with hockey players from other nations. The experience was excellent,” Woods said, sharing his experience.
Meanwhile, Black Sticks coach Greg Nicol saw it from the convenience points of view. “A lot of these tournaments we go to, when we are playing at 3 o’clock, we have to start preparing at 12 o’clock keeping travel time in mind. Having the stadium at the doorstep of the accommodation is fantastic.
“The Hockey World Cup Village has got everything you need. Some recreational facilities, a full dining room, and a recovery pool. Odisha has done an outstanding job. They’ve really set the benchmark very high,” Nicol said, heaping praise on the organisers.
Magnificent idea: Arun Antony on World Cup Village
Arul Antony has been coaching for 20 years and he swears he has not seen anything like this in his career.
Speaking on the Village, he said, “It’s a magnificent idea in trying to emulate the Olympic Games village concept. The Odisha govt has done an amazing job in getting the airport and the sports complex done. And the stadium, Oh My God, in my 20 years of coaching this is too good. The food has been brilliant, the hospitality great.”
Argentina captain Matías Rey did not step back in his praise for the Village and the overall experience he enjoyed in Rourkela. Be it the Village, the stadium or the crowd. “It’s really a nice initiative, something that happens only in the Olympic Games,” he added.
While Chile made its debut at the World Cup, Axel Troncoso felt he was lucky to have been part of the squad. According to him, the entire squad has been floored by the ‘royal’ treatment they had been receiving from the hosts.
“We’ve all been impressed by the facilities. The stay has been great, the food has been great. The hockey fields are amazing, we’ve never played in stadiums this big.
“The Village has a nice environment. We get to meet other players in the hall, although we don’t really talk to each other that much. It’s still a nice hello and goodbye. The ping pong and pool tables keep us entertained,” Troncoso described his stay at the Village.
As for Fujimoto, he looks forward to another visit to Rourkela and would not miss the visit to the Village