ROURKELA: Eight years after it was withdrawn, the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Hockey for Boys and Girls tag has been restored to the state government-run Panposh Sports Hostel (PSH) at Rourkela. The nomenclature for the CoE has however been changed to senior hockey hostels.
The decision came after the Kalinga stadium complex reportedly got crowded with Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High-Performance Centre being operational since 2019, hampering the practice of senior trainees, sources said adding the trainees would now get to watch FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 matches at Rourkela apart from availing adequate practice facilities at the multiple astro-turfs of the PSH and the new Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium.
On September 30, 14 senior male and eight senior female hockey trainees permanently returned to the PSH from the Bhubaneswar Sports Hostel. Sources said that the two new 100-bedded hostels have around 44 junior and senior male trainees and 52 junior and senior female trainees. The department has not yet clarified the sanctioned strength of trainees under the senior hostel scheme.
The decision of withdrawing the CoE tag in 2014 had drawn flak from the hockey fraternity which claimed it would prove detrimental for PSH and the district at large. The government, however, had argued trainees would get better exposure in Bhubaneswar.
While the hockey fraternity welcomed the decision to the restoration of COE tag, it pointed out that severe damage was already done with the flow of PSH trainees to the senior India team being substantially reduced in these eight years.
Retired coach of the PSH Sylvestor Toppo said he had earlier pointed out that lack of competitiveness, natural-thriving environment and match practice at Bhubaneswar Sports Hostel would adversely affect the performance of senior trainees. “All the players from BSH who reached the senior international level, are originally from the PSH,” Toppo added.