Odisha was on Thursday named the host of this year’s FIH men’s hockey Junior World Cup in November-December, reaffirming the state’s growing stature as a hub for the sport.
The event will be staged at the city’s Kalinga Stadium here from November 24 to December 5.
Odisha and Uttar Pradesh had both expressed interest in hosting the marquee event but the former was picked for being the national team’s title sponsor as well. Lucknow had hosted the tournament’s last edition in which India claimed the top honours in 2016.
At the upcoming tourney, 16 hockey playing nations will be vie for the top honours. The state has earlier hosted the senior World Cup in 2018, the FIH World League in 2017 and the Champions Trophy in 2014.
“It is a short notice for making the arrangement for such an event, especially during the pandemic period. However, since the country’s prestige is at stake, we have readily agreed to host it,” Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said during a programme to announce the host city.
“I hope the reigning Indian team will take advantage of the home condition and emerge victorious again,” he added.
During the function, the CM also unveiled the logo and trophy of the event. Odisha is Indian hockey’s sponsor as well, a role that was widely appreciated after the men’s team won a bronze and the women’s team finished a creditable fourth in Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.
The official announcement was made in the presence Odisha Sports and Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera, International Hockey Federatio (FIH) President Dr Narinder Batra and Hockey India Secretary General Rajinder Singh.
The teams which will participate in the event are hosts India, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, Belgium, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, USA, Canada, Chile and Argentina.
Australia has opted out due to travel restrictions because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Odisha is also set to host the 2023 FIH senior men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.
“Odisha is the hub for hockey in the country and the Odisha state government will continue to do everything in our capacity to help the sport grow further and achieve further laurels on the world level,” Patnaik said.
“We look forward to welcoming 16 top teams from across the world to participate in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021. We are delighted to be hosts of this prestigious tournament. Our priority will be to ensure a safe environment to compete during these challenging COVID times,” he added.
FIH chief Batra said Bhubaneswar’s good infrastructure will ensure that the tournament will be held smoothly.
“The FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 is the pinnacle of tournaments for U-21 and is a very important fixture in the FIH calendar,” he said.
“We are delighted that Odisha with their world-class infrastructure are set to host an event of this magnitude. As always, we have been extended full support by the Odisha state government and the event will be held following all required COVID-19 protocols.”
HI Secretary General Rajinder said it is an honour for the national federation to host the event.
“It is a great honour for Hockey India to host back-to-back FIH Hockey Junior Men’s World Cup. In 2016, it was a memorable outing for us in Lucknow where India won the tournament beating Belgium in the final.
“Hockey India over the years has organised several events of international importance in India and with the support of Odisha state government, we are confident of organising yet another memorable event for the participating teams, officials and the fans,” he said.