Kolkata: Sports lovers in Eastern India couldn’t have it any better as two eastern cities-Kolkata and Bhubaneswar are all set to host the finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and the men’s hockey World Hockey Final 2017 respectively. Bhubaneswar would also host the Hockey World Cup matches in 2018.
Football fans in the City of Joy are already overjoyed after Bengal clinched their 32nd Santosh Trophy title on Sunday. And adding to all of it, the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, commonly known as the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata has been selected by the visiting FIFA delegates to host the all-important final of the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“We are happy. This is a stadium that is fulfilling all the high standards. Obviously it is not finished. Things can change but we have received guarantees from the ministers that everything will develop like we requested. Then we can have a fantastic World Cup here,” said Jamie Yarza, the Head of Events of a eight member FIFA team who, along with the Local Organising Committee members has been visiting and inspecting the football stadiums in six cities -Kolkata, New Delhi, Navi Mumbai, Kochi, Guhawati and Margao, which would host the marquee tournament.
The DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai which was rated as ‘the best in the country’ by these delegates was an overwhelming favourite to be given the nod to host the final of the tournament. But, the iconic Salt Lake stadium won the two-horse race for hosting the final match. The Kolkata stadium, which has a capacity of 85,000 was revamped by spending huge amounts of money has been one of the most famous football grounds in India and football fanatics in Kolkata, with a rich football legacy rightly, gets its due. The final of the tournament is slated to be held on the October 28. Guhawati, would get to host a semifinal of the tournament with Navi Mumbai hosting the other one.
And coming to the game of sticks, the people of Odisha turned out to be lucky as the Kalinga Stadium in the capital city of Bhubaneswar was given the nod to play host to two of hockey’s biggest global events- the men’s hockey World Hockey final in 2017 and the Hockey World cup matches in 2018. As a result of Odisha being the title sponsor of both these mega hockey events, a FIH official statement said that the official event titles would be Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 and the Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
The Kalinga stadium built in 2010 is not only equipped to host hockey matches but has all facilities and requirements which are needed to host different sports like athletics, football, basket ball, table tennis, tennis and swimming at the international level.
And the CEO of International Hockey Federation (FIH) Jason McCracken confirmed his belief in the progress of hockey in India and added that these two mega events wouldn’t be something that would be forgotten soon. “India is a nation with a proud hockey heritage with a history of hosting world-class sports events. Each time we return to the country, Hockey India raise the bar, embracing goals outlined in our 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy aimed at making our events innovative and exciting for our fans,” said McCracken.
He further added, “We have no doubt that the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 and the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 will be unforgettable events for everyone involved.” These two big events held in the eastern part of India would undoubtedly play a major role in the propagation and progress of all kinds of sports in that part of the country. And Kolkata and Bhubaneswar, are the lucky ones to be able to witness history in the making.
(With inputs from PTI)