Cricket, no doubt is the most popular game and the excitement it generates among the masses in India is unparallel to any other sport. However, lack of representation of players from Odisha at the national-level has always remained a concern, especially among the fans in the State.
In a bid to address the issue, efforts have finally begun to set up dedicated cricket academies in Odisha. In the first phase, 15 advanced academies will be set up in 15 districts of the State as part of the vision 2024 of the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA).
The foundation stone for the mega project was laid in virtual mode in the presence of Odisha Sports Minister, Tushar Kanti Behera on Monday.
“The cricket academies at district-level will be set up to impart proper training to aspiring players at the grassroots. It is part of the long-term strategy to create next-level infrastructure with digital analytics and scientific training. By this, the players can know their strength and weakness through proper individual profiling,” said Behera.
According to Behera, individual profiling of players is being taken up in the State in various sports and “We are trying to make extensive use of technology,” he said.
OCA secretary Sanjay Behera said, “Despite the extensive damage caused to Barabati stadium during Cyclone Fani, we managed to rebuild the required infrastructure and an international match was held subsequently. It is now our priority to give scope to players from rural areas so that they can represent Odisha at state and national levels.”
At present, only three to four districts in the State have proper turf wickets. The OCA secretary said, “Our plan is to ensure that turf wickets are available in 15 districts in the first phase and it will be completed in next few months. In the districts, which do not have playgrounds, we will ask government to provide playgrounds for necessary development,” he added.
Secretary, Sports Department, Vishal Dev said, “It is a path-breaking initiative. The Vision 2024 by OCA has several crucial components. When we talk about developing specific sports, several issues like infrastructure, coaching are important and the selections should be transparent. All such aspects have been taken care of and it will go a long way in promoting the game and the players will definitely benefit.”
Dev further informed that a mapping has been done from Gram Panchayat to State-level to ascertain what kind of infrastructure needs to be developed for which sport. “We have taken up 10 disciplines and focussing on grass root development, coaching As well as high performance centres in the first phase. Our ultimate aim is to make Odisha the number 1 State not just in the country but as a leading force in the world as far as sports is concerned,” he added.