By Biswa Bhusan Mohapatra
Bhubaneswar, Nov 24 (IANS) Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal declared the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup open at the opening ceremony held on Wednesday at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium here.
Tusharkanti Behera, Odisha’s Sports & Youth Services Minister, Narinder Dhruv Batra, President of FIH, Dilip Tirkey, Chairman of Hockey Promotion Council Odisha, Gyanendro Ningombam, President of Hockey India and Rajinder Singh, Secretary General, Hockey India, graced the occasion which was held ahead of the hosts and defending Champions India’s match against France.
As a token of his appreciation and gratitude, Batra presented the replica of the Junior World Cup trophy to the Governor.
Wishing all the participating teams the very best for their campaign at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup, Ganeshi Lal said he is feeling extremely happy that Odisha got this opportunity to host this showpiece event.
Odisha has a deep connection with Hockey. Over the years the Sports has evolved in the country and Odisha has been a preferred hub for hockey, he said.
“Odisha has hosted the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2018 and will do so again in 2023 and it gives me immense delight that today we are hosting the Junior World Cup and I congratulate each and every player who has reached this stage,” the Governor said.
He welcomed all the participants especially to those international guests, who are visiting India for their first time.
“We are absolutely delighted that the hockey festivities have returned to Odisha, a State which is highly respected world over for their incredible ability to host world-class sporting events in the State,” said Ningombam.
This is one of the biggest events in the international hockey calendar and we are ever-thankful to the Government of Odisha who have always extended their support to our sport.”
The opening ceremony, which saw fireworks lighting up the night sky of Bhubaneswar, also included all 16 captains from the participating teams taking a photo along with the coveted trophy.
Earlier in the day, there were exciting matches played out. While Belgium beat South Africa 5-1 in their first Pool A game, Germany got the better of Pakistan as they defeated them 5-2 in their Pool D match and Canada lost to Poland 0-1 in their first Pool B game.