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news details
FIH Men's Hockey World Cup 2023: Birsa Munda Stadium Hosts First International Game
1/13/2023 10:24:45 PM
NEW DELHI, Jan 13: Hockey fever has gripped the country's cradle of the sport with thousands of people turning up to witness the men's World Cup match between England and Wales at the magnificent Birsa Munda stadium on the opening day on Friday The 21,000-capacity stadium, named after an Indian tribal freedom fighter, is said to be the biggest hockey venue in the world, and true to the tradition of the state, a sea of spectators came to watch the Pool D match.
The Sundergarh region of Odisha, of which Rourkela is the largest city, is considered the cradle of Indian hockey as it has produced more than 60 international players, both men and women, including captains like the current Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey.
Sansarpur in Punjab was earlier considered the nursery of Indian hockey, but it has declined in the recent past.
Thousands of hockey fans queued up at the gates hours before the start of the England-Wales match (5 p.m.), with many of them coming from all across Odisha to have a glimpse of the brand-new stadium as well as India's first international match in the region.
"I have seen matches at the Kalinga Stadium and now I am going to experience the same at the Birsa Munda stadium, which is our pride. This region has produced so many Indian players and done so much for the game in the country," said Hemanta Das, who has come from Jharsuguda, nearly 150km from here.
"I want to be among those who watch the first match at this stadium, so I am going to watch England vs Wales and then the India-Spain match," said another fan from Rourkela.
The city wore a festive look with billboards and roadside wall paintings relating to the World Cup all over the place. The state government has also set up three fan parks --- called Olly Land referring to the official mascot of the World Cup, the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle -- outside the Birsa Munda and Kalinga Stadium as well as the Puri beach, where large screens have been put up for fans to watch the matches live.
Organisers claimed that the tickets for all 20 matches here were sold out within one week of the sale opening. The stadium was at least two-thirds full during the England vs Wales match.
The Birsa Munda stadium was built in a record time of 15 months to host the World Cup matches. The stadium will host 20 of the 44 matches of the World Cup, while the remaining 24, including the semifinals and final, will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, which is hosting back-to-back World Cup.
The 200-crore Birsa Munda stadium has been built on an area of 35 acres inside the 120-acre campus of the Biju Patnaik University of Technology on the outskirts of Rourkela.
It is a unique stadium as it houses a Rs 80-crore accommodation -- called World Cup village -- which has over 200 rooms to house at least eight teams and star facilities serviced by the Taj Group. It also has a connecting tunnel between the dressing room and the adjacent practice pitch, a separate fitness centre and a swimming pool.
The stadium has not hosted any senior international event before the World Cup but coaches and players of all 16 participating teams have nothing but admiration for the stadium.
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