ROURKELA: UnionTribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram has sought intervention of the ministries of Sports and Steel to hold at least four matches of the Men’s Hockey World Cup at Rourkela, the cradle of hockey, and also augment facilities of the SAIL Hockey Academy (SHA).Sundargarh Lok Sabha member of BJP Oram sent a letter to Minister of State for Sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore urging him to impress upon the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to hold at least four World Cup hockey matches in Rourkela.Oram said it is a matter of pride for Odisha that the mega world event is going to be held at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar from November 24 to December 16 next year.
He said, “Rourkela could be a potential host for some matches.’’ Justifying the demand, Oram pointed out that Rourkela and tribal-dominated Sundargarh district have produced about 60 international senior and junior players, including many big names who captained the national team in international arenas. He said Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium of Rourkela Steel Plan (RSP) is a world class stadium with more sitting capacity than Kalinga Stadium. The Minister said the city would shortly have air connectivity.Oram reasoned that holding at least four matches in Rourkela would immensely benefit the tribal players of the district and promote hockey among youths, while people of western Odisha would get a chance to witness the global event at their own turf.
In another letter to Union Steel Minister Birendra Singh, Oram suggested improvement of RSP-run SHA here. He said the SHA was set up about 25 years ago to impart scientific training to promising hockey players and prepare them to play for the national team. But since its inception, it has produced only one Olympian, Birendra Lakra, and a few junior international players.
Pointing out deficiencies, Oram suggested that intake capacity be increased from 32 to 48 to allow more alternatives to coaches to prepare the best teams for sub-junior, junior and senior national championships. He also mooted that admission age-limit should be 13-17 years, training duration be increased to five years and there should be independent annual budget for the SHA. It may be recalled that only the national team for Doha Asian Games 2006 was announced at Rourkela following fitness and selection trials at Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium.