Hockey fever hits Rourkela, first international match held at Birsa Munda Stadium
Named after India’s tribal freedom fighter, the stadium with a capacity of 21,000 is said to be the largest hockey stadium in the world and according to the state’s tradition, a crowd of spectators turned up to watch this Pool D match.
Sports fever has gripped the country’s hockey heartland as thousands of people thronged the Birsa Munda Stadium here on Friday to watch the opening match of the Men’s Hockey World Cup between England and Wales. Named after India’s tribal freedom fighter, the stadium with a capacity of 21,000 is said to be the largest hockey stadium in the world and according to the state’s tradition, a crowd of spectators turned up to watch this Pool D match.
Rourkela, the largest city in Odisha’s Sundergarh district, is considered the cradle of Indian hockey, having produced more than 60 international players (male and female), including Dilip Tirkey, the current President of Hockey India. Sansarpur in Punjab was earlier considered the nursery of Indian hockey but it has seen a decline in recent times. Thousands of hockey fans lined up at the gate to watch the match between England and Wales (at 5 pm), many of whom had come to catch a glimpse of the fledgling stadium and watch India’s first international match here.
Hemanta Das, who has come from Jharsuguda, about 150 km from here, said, “I have seen matches at the Kalinga Stadium and now I am going to experience the same at the Birsa Munda Stadium. This stadium is our pride. Many Indian players have come out from here who have done a lot for sports in the country. Another fan from Rourkela said, “I want to be among those who have seen the first match at this stadium so I am going to watch England vs Wales match followed by India vs Spain match.” ,
Organizers have claimed that tickets for all the 20 matches here were sold out within a week of opening for sale. The stadium was two-thirds full during the England vs Wales match. The stadium has not hosted any senior international tournament prior to the World Cup but the stadium was highly praised by the coaches and players of all 16 participating teams.
Disclaimer:Prabhasakshi has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.
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