Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With just few weeks to go for the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, preparations are in full swing in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. The mega event will be organised at the Kalinga Stadiun in the Capital City and the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium in the Steel City from January 13 to 29, 2023.

As the countdown has already started for the showpiece event, beautification drives in both the cities have reached the final stages. While mural paintings have added gloss to the city walls, various places in the city are glittering with colourful lights.

Odisha government has left no stone unturned in the preparation for the grand event. Al kinds of arrangements are in place to give a memorable experience to the players and several guests from abroad and across the country arriving for the marquee event.

Hockey fever has gripped the Steel City of Odisha. Rourkela is gearing up for the mega event with preparations reaching the last stage and the entire city getting a revamp.

The walls have been painted with murals of hockey players and themes. As a precursor to the World Cup, a 40-feet statue of a hockey player has been erected near the airport to welcome the players and fans across the globe.

Along with the inaugural match on January 13, a total of 20 matches of the tournament will be played at the Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium.

The sense of urgency echoes throughout the Rourkela city as final touches are being given to the entire infrastructure including the stadium, roads and footpaths.

“The whole city has been transformed for the upcoming hockey world cup. With new infrastructure, roads, fountain, lightening, wall paintings, the city has a beautified look like a bride. We are all excited for the grad event. It will be a proud moment for the people of the city,” said Usha Manjusha Barik, a denizen of Rourkela and hockey fan. 

“Statutes of some hockey legends have been erected at several places in the city. It will give people a feeling of nostalgia and they will be attracted towards the game,” said former India hockey player Lazarus Barla.

Meanwhile, Rourkela Smart City CEO Shubhankar Mohapatra urged the people to act like responsible citizens to take care of all the beautification work and enjoy the mega event.

“It is the responsibility of all the people of Rourkela to host the grand event in a meticulous manner so that the players and visitors across the globe will cherish their time here,” said Mohapatra.

Meanwhile, the state capital is happening with many fold preparatory activities to host the much-awaited World Cup. While sanitation work has been given priority, the city wall is being painted with morals of various hockey themes. To involve the city denizens with the grand event ‘Chak De’ programmes are being organised. 

Moreover, discussions are going on with various ‘Puja Mandaps’ to broadcast the live match on big screens to give a flavor of hockey to one and all across the city. Big cutouts of players will adore the city to attract fans and create awareness about the game. BMC has ordered the shops and other business establishments to keep their surrounding neat and clean. Cab and auto drivers and food delivery boys have been directed to adore their vehicles with hockey themes and wear T shirts and caps depicting awareness slogans on hockey.

“We have been directed to show good behavior to the guests during the World Cup and we will not compromise with it,” said Padman Samal, Secretary of All Odisha Auto Association.

Meanwhile, BMC Mayor Sulochana Das said that everybody should be alert to make sure that all the guests should get a sweet experience in the city during the World Cup.

“There should not be any problem for the players and hockey fans across the globe who will come here for the big event. Everybody should show them good behavior so that they will get a wonderful experience from here,” said Das.