by Sudipta Biswas

The Indian men’s hockey team cruised to a terrific 10-0 victory against Russia to strengthen their bid to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.

Just a month ago, hosting the FIH Series Finals 2019 in Bhubaneswar had become a distant dream to Hockey India and Odisha government. In the wake of cyclonic storm Fani, the coastal state of India had to cope with widespread destruction, the iconic Kalinga stadium was no exception with both the turf and infrastructure suffered extensive damages.

Cyclone Fani affected Kalinga stadium

The damages were so severe that reports claimed that the Odisha government may need at least a year to reconstruct the stadium. Hence, the tournament was expected to be shifted to either Raipur or Lucknow. But, the sports ministry of the state worked overtime to ensure the tournament takes place in the temple city. To make sure that they had to assure Hockey India that they would get Kalinga stadium ready for the marquee event on time.

 

Without compromising with the standards of the stadium, the sports ministry of the state completed the repairs and renovations before the tournament opener. On Thursday, a new look Kalinga stadium hosted the first match of FIH Series Finals 2019 where India imposed a heavy defeat on Russia. This comprehensive victory put India in a commanding position in their bid to confirm an Olympics berth.

 

“The hockey turf had suffered tears in few isolated places. The stadium infrastructure also suffered peripheral and minor damages including broken glass panes, fixtures of floodlights, gallery chairs and facade. The cyclone had uprooted trees, broken towers, and high mast light and created a large amount of debris across the complex,” sports director Vineel Krishna said.

Odisha sports department fought with the odds

When the cyclone Fani left a huge trail of destruction in the state, the sports ministry kept working on the renovation of the stadium, despite that fact that humanitarian distress was getting priority with millions of people had to be shifted to safe places to avoid loss of life.

Lok Sabha and Assembly elections were making the government’s task even more difficult. Hence, the best possible option was to shift the competition elsewhere. What made it more difficult was that the stadium was used as a base camp for relief activities and shelter for people during Fani, leaving them with less time for restoration.

 

 

But, to its credit, the Odisha government made sure the interest of hockey doesn’t suffer in the backdrop of this mess. They worked round the clock to address every challenge they faced in order to get the stadium ready for the tournament in record time.

“Arrangements were made to provide relief. The complex was also a base for air-dropping relief material and a control room for their distribution. Even the control room for restoration of power supply was inside the stadium only. The athletics stadium roof was blown away,” Sports secretary Vishal K. Dev explained.

The hard work is now visible as the staffers presented stakeholders of the game with a picture perfect stadium. The stands, galleries, dressing rooms and the turf have been restored to its previous shape.

 

The match between India and Russia was played without any concern. The match went on smoothly on the turf which also coped with many damages.

India’s thumping victory against Russia has seen elated fans cheering for the home team from the stands.

Now, those who made sure the tournament gets underway on time at the scheduled venue deserve praises. So, the credit of India’s 10-0 win will not only go to the players but also to the hard-working staffs of state sports department.

Odisha set an example of professionalism, other must follow them to make India active sports nation.


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