The international hockey federation (FIH) confirmed Bhubaneswar as venue for two of its major events -- the Men’s Hockey World League Final in December this year and the men’s World Cup in 2018.
The Kalinga Stadium in the Orissa capital was confirmed as host after the state government signed a deal with FIH to sponsor the two events. Hockey India had proposed the Kalinga Stadium, which played host to the men’s Champions Trophy in 2014, as venue for the 2018 World Cup last year and it seems the Hockey World League Final will be a dress rehearsal for the mega event.
The multi-purpose stadium, built in 2010, has facilities for athletics, football, basketball, tennis, table tennis and swimming, ensuring that it is well equipped to host international sporting events.
The Men’s Hockey World League Final, involving eight of World’s best teams including hosts India, will be played between December 1-10, 2017 while the World Cup is scheduled between November 28/December 16 in 2018 and will see 15 teams join the hosts at the event.
Teams for the World League Final would qualify from the World League Semifinals to be held in London and Johannesburg in June-July this year. For the World Cup, the semifinalists from the Hockey World League will be joined by the five champions from continental tournaments which will also take place this year, the FIH informed in a release on Monday.
The decision to host the two major events at Bhubaneswar is part of Hockey India’s plans to take the sport to non-metro centres in the country so as to attract good crowds.
The plan to take hockey to smaller centres was put in place by Hockey India after the 2013 Hockey World League Final in New Delhi during which foreign teams had expressed their displeasure after playing in a virtually empty stadium.
Hockey India thus organized the 2014 Champions Trophy at Bhubaneswar, the 2015 Hockey World League Final in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and the 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup in Lucknow.
The scheme also helps in improving and developing infrastructure for these events. Raipur and Lucknow got new stadiums and synthetic turfs for the big events while the Kalinga Stadium, completed in 2010, was refurbished for the 2014 Champions Trophy.