The fourteenth edition of the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup is kicking off today in Bhubaneshwar.
The series will run from November 28th to December 16th, and the 1978-era Kalinga stadium has been rebuilt by the state government for the same. Prior to this series, Odisha had also hosted the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy in 2014. Last year, they hosted the Hockey World League Final. This year, it is reported that the state government has worked overtime and tirelessly to make the event go smoothly.
Shah Rukh Khan and AR Rahman are scheduled to perform at the opening ceremony today at the Kalinga stadium, which has undergone a major facelift to host the event.
The stadium’s seating capacity has been increased from 9,000 to 15,000, with the addition of new VIP and media boxes. The floodlights at the facility have also been upgraded. In order to make road transport easier and smoother for statewide tourists, 300 new buses have been introduced by the state-owned transport department. This way, people from Cuttack and Puri will be able to attend matches without much hassle.
Visitors to the stadium will include players and students in equal measure, as almost everyone in the area is reckoned to be a hockey enthusiast. Former hockey champion and politician Dilip Tirkey had remarked that it is impossible to spot a young boy or girl going to school in the region without a hockey stick in their bag! It is only fair to assume that India will enjoy stellar crowd support for the occasion.
India’s involvement in the Hockey World Cup
India has won the Hockey World Cup only once so far, in 1975, under the captaincy of Shri Ajit Pal. Since 1994, no Asian team has won the title (Pakistan won in ’94). This gap is largely attributed to the absence of hockey-promoting infrastructure and resources in the region, as compared to European sporting standards.
In the current (2018) edition of the Hockey World Cup, India has been placed in Pool C alongside Belgium, Canada and South Africa (all three of whom were silver medallists in the Rio Olympics). A total of 16 teams will participate in the event, spread between four groups. The format will enable the group toppers (the top 2 teams in each group) to progress into the final eight, which will then culminate into quarter finals, semi finals, and finals, respectively.
All the best, team India!