Bhubaneswar: After field hockey gave Odisha a global recognition, the state is now shifting its gears to the next level focussing on the game of football.
Hero Super Cup happened to lay the foundation for the thought, the Football High Performance Centre with AIFF, launch of ISL franchise Odisha FC and winning the hosting rights for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup 2021 have been apt steps for the government to create an ecosystem to take that dream forward and promote football, shared Director Sports, Odisha, R Vineel Krishna.
While world-class infrastructure is being developed for this 2021 extravaganza, Odisha is also developing a pathway from grassroots to elite for producing talented footballers.
With women football gaining global recognition, Odisha is developing programs to induct more women into the game.
Elaborating on this, Krishna said, “Odisha has a rich past of women footballers from the State representing India. Even the current pool is very talented, with girls bagging bronze and silver medals in Khelo India Youth Games, Guwahati in the U21 and U17 categories respectively.
“Our focus is to build on this area of strength on the women’s football front. Developing a strong legacy program in the State as part of hosting the World Cup is being worked on priority too.”
To increase the sport’s popularity, reach and participation, the State, phase-wise, will be setting up football corners in schools and public parks across Odisha with provision of footballs, equipment, and coaching.
Engaging AIFF E-license coaches at these football corners will add new possibilities for the players with promising talent. Hosting Football competitions in the State in a phased-manner across different age categories for both boys and girls is also being chalked.
Football has a mass appeal and rural talent will be tapped in. Odisha FC youth program will also be available to the talents which add to the aspirational goal for youngsters to make it to the Odisha FC squad. They can also find a spot in the Indian U17 and U19 teams which are based in Odisha.
Odisha FC also intends to have a team in the Indian Women League soon, and that becomes an aspirational target for the women footballers in the state.
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