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Odisha: Can sports continue to thrive in the new government?

Suryabansi Suraj, the newly appointed minister of Sport & Youth in Odisha, has a great foundation to build on.

Odisha: Can sports continue to thrive in the new government?

Suryabansi Suraj at the Kalinga Stadium. (Photo credits: Odisha Sports )


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 20 Jun 2024 11:11 AM GMT

Odisha's political landscape has undergone a significant shift, ushering in new opportunities for the state and posing questions at the same time on the sports front.

Suryabanshi Suraj, the newly appointed Minister of State for Sports and Youth Services, in a show of reassurance, recently inspected the Kalinga Stadium and emphasized the government’s commitment to developing sports infrastructure at the grassroots level.

During his visit, Suraj toured several facilities, including the Sports Science Centre, Khelo India State Centre of Excellence, Tennis Centre, Indoor Athletic Centre, Sports Climbing, Shooting, Aquatic, Gymnastics, and Hockey HPC. Also, he interacted with athletes to understand the challenges they face in the sports hostels.

Suraj reiterated the government’s focus on building robust sports infrastructure throughout Odisha, particularly in rural areas.

"We must establish strong sporting facilities in rural parts of the state. Our goal is to launch initiatives that will position Odisha as a leading state in sports," he stated, in an interaction with media persons.

Ambitious goals

The Minister also reviewed preparations for the International Yoga Day on June 21, 2024. This event will be held at notable historical sites across the state to raise awareness and popularise yoga.

Suraj highlighted Odisha’s achievements on the national stage and expressed ambitions to elevate the state to global prominence.

"Odisha has distinguished itself nationally and emerged as India’s sports capital. By the time we celebrate the state's 100th anniversary in 2036, our goal is to make Odisha the sports capital of the world," he declared.

Suraj emphasized the importance of grassroots development to nurture young talent and sustain the state’s success in sports.

"Odisha’s international-level facilities and the accomplishments of our athletes reflect our commitment to sports development. We will prioritize grassroots initiatives to ensure continuous success," he added.

The Minister pointed out the critical role of infrastructure in sports development.

"As we approach Odisha’s centenary in 2036, we have devised a strategy to secure a unique global identity for the state in sports. Our approach will be project-focused rather than program-oriented," Suraj concluded.

While a change in guard does raise apprehensions, the new minister's statements should alleviate any early concerns being felt in the state's sporting fraternity.

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