Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], May 20 (ANI): Odisha's efforts to turn Bhubaneswar into the 'Sports Capital' of India have been well documented over the past few years.
Apart from 2018 FIH Men's World Cup (hockey), the city has also hosted a number of football tournaments like the Super Cup, and the ongoing Indian Women's League. With the city also set to be one of the host cities for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, that title may well be justified.
Apart from being a permanent training back for both men's and women's hockey teams, Sports Odisha has been an ardent supporter of Indian football over the years, with Bhubaneswar being the home of Indian Arrows, besides hosting the Indian senior women's team, the Gold Cup, the Super Cup, and Indian Super League matches, etc.
Head coach of Odisha Police Sradhanjali Samantaray, who has represented the Senior Indian women's football team in the past, credits state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for all the sporting progression.
"The only credit for the development of sports goes to our Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik and the Odisha Government who are trying to develop all kinds of sports here. The upcoming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which will be held here is an opportunity for many players to show their best," she said, according to a statement.
"When we used to play, we did not have such facilities, but now everything has changed, and I feel every parent should allow their children to play the sport they like and make a career out of it. I want to thank AIFF and the Odisha Government for making this league happen," she added.
This is the first time that the AIFF, with the help of the Odisha Government, is hosting the IWL, with as many as 12 teams from different states taking part in it. Out of the 12, two of the teams - Sports Odisha and Odisha Police are the proverbial home sides.
"IWL is the biggest platform for women in India to showcase their talent in front of the world. It's kind of a development project for Odisha as around 60 odd girls are playing against some of the top teams in the country. This provides inspiration to the girls as well," stated Sports Odisha head coach Gitanjali Khuntia.
"The girls are learning from the best in the country, which is very much required for the growth of Odisha football as well. Some of the players who are also playing in other clubs can get the experience and share with our girls, which is very helpful," she added. (ANI)