In the recent past, the state of Odisha has emerged as an unlikely powerhouse when it comes to encouraging sports in India. They began with hockey before moving on to other racquet sports. But now, they have announced their intention to almost double their sports budget for the current fiscal year.
According to The Economic Times, Vishal Kumar Dev, the commissioner and secretary of Sports & Youth Services Department, Government of Odisha explained the criteria for the government when it came to targetting sports with potential in the state.
Keeping this in mind, the state has reportedly identified 6 disciplines — athletics, hockey, weightlifting, badminton, football and archery. The amount they are looking to invest in these disciplines is over Rs 350 crore in the next financial year.
We have identified 6 sports as priority disciplines, where we see Odisha has great potential and where our players are doing very well. We will set up national level academies for each of the six disciplines,’ Dev was quoted as saying.
Furthermore, he also announced that the ahigh performance athletics academy is in the process of being set up with official groundwork smoothly on the way.
‘We have already signed an MOU with International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Athletics Federation of India,’ Dev said.
Also read: Hockey World League 2017: The Spirit of Odisha
It is worth noting that the initiative for an elite athletics academy comes after the Government initiated badminton academy in the state which sought to identify and groom top shuttlers.
Additionally, the state government has launched a scheme aimed at providing financial support to athletes to avail advanced training facilities overseas. This fund will also look to strengthen athlete participation abroad. The other priority seems to be facilitating coaches of world class abilities to work at the grassroots with athletes and other state coaches.
After becoming the first state to sponsor a national sports team with the tie-up between Hockey India and the Government, it is heartening to see the broadening horizon of sports when it comes to the state.
Recently, Odisha also hosted its first ITF Tennis tournament and the city of Cuttack is in talks to host the next Senior National Table Tennis tournament.