It is no secret that the state of Odisha has thrown a lot of support to the development of sports of late. The state has established itself as one of the sporting hubs of the country, thanks to a proactive administration that is committed to developing a sporting ecosystem.
Of course, the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar is one of the five venues of the upcoming FIFA Women's U17 World Cup that is set to be held in India in February 2021. The preparations are in full swing and it is expected that the infrastructure at the Kalinga will be ready by the end of September.
Vineel Krishna, additional sports secretary of Odisha, felt that the state is doing its bit to ensure Indian football has a bright future. He also complimented the Indian Super League (ISL) for developing the quality of football in India and also expressed his belief that football has the potential to be successful commercially.
"Odisha sponsors the Indian Arrows team and the U17 national team. We are supporting the future of Indian football. In fact, our girls have performed better than boys and we have been them supporting them as well. Therefore, we are one of the host venues of FIFA U17 Women's World Cup. Many of the girls come from rural areas, and football has changed their lives.
"Football has the potential to become a good commercial story. In fact, ISL has improved the quality of football in India. Now we hope to see India in the footballing world map," stated the administrator.
Krishna asserted that Odisha is committed to improving sports infrastructure and has set up five FIFA standard footballing pitch keeping in mind the upcoming FIFA U17 World Cup.
"In Odisha, we provide the infrastructure and the football club (Odisha FC) manages the sporting sector. We have tried this model in other sports as well. We have many high-performance centres and they have been running very well. We really hope that football will grow big in Odisha. We also want to conduct grassroots tournaments and reward the winners with a long-term financial contract.
"We want to convert sports hostels to football academies. As a legacy programme of the World Cup is in the works and we are going to start various grassroots programmes. We have five FIFA standard fields and we are hopeful of churning out future professional players. We have been hosting events at short notice and we conducted the Super Cup in just seven days’ notice," said the government official.
India was appointed as the host by the FIFA Council meeting at Miami on 15 March 2019. The country had also successfully hosted the 2017 U17 Men's World Cup.
Five venues have been selected as host cities - the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, EKA Arena in Ahmedabad and the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.