BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Government on Tuesday announced that it would sponsor the Indian national rugby team for the next three years and facilitate high performance training and conditioning of the players.
An agreement with Indian Rugby Football Union (IRFU) was inked here at Kalinga Stadium. Sports Director R Vineel Krishna and president of IRFU Maneck Unwala signed the agreement in presence of Sports and Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera, Secretary Vishal Dev, CEO IRFU Naseer Hussain and former rugby player Rahul Bose.
The partnership is part of the State Government’s mission to develop, promote and expand the sports ecosystem beyond hockey and football. The sponsorship will cover training, conditioning and incentivising the Indian national rugby teams (men and women) participating in international rugby events.
Terming the partnership significant, Behera said there has been a steady rise of Rugby in terms of popularity and participation, particularly the participation of young players due to the commendable efforts of Rugby India.
“This partnership between Odisha Government and Rugby India will not only help develop the sport of rugby further, but also support and strengthen the high performance training of Indian national rugby teams,” he said.
He said the association aligns perfectly with promotion of rugby which is already gaining grounds in several states. Odisha has produced some famous names in Indian rugby and this initiative will help nurture young talent who can bring laurels to the country, Behera added.
Unwala lauded the Odisha Government for its vision to develop the State as a hub for major sporting events and creating international standard high-performance training centres in multiple sports for the country.
Bose described it as a ‘historic day’ for Indian rugby. “Thanks to this sponsorship from the Odisha, national rugby players (women and men) will, for the first time ever, be paid for their services to the Indian rugby teams. This marks a first, solid step towards making rugby a professional sport in the country,” he said.
In 2018, the Government had sponsored national hockey teams for five years, and supported the ISL team Odisha FC last year. IRFU Board member Upendra Kumar Mohanty and senior officials of the department were present.