Bhubaneswar, Dec 8:
Hockey fever has gripped this capital city of Odisha with thousands of sports lovers thronging the Kalinga stadium to enjoy the men’s Hero Champions Trophy matches.
The Champions Trophy, which began Saturday, is drawing huge crowds cheering for their favourite players and teams.
With the best eight teams of the world clashing for the title, all the tickets have already been sold out even though India lost its two initial matches.
The stadium was packed to capacity during the home team’s two matches against 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions Germany and the World Cup bronze medallists Argentina.
“We are here to cheer up the Indian team. We want the home team to perform well and ensure victory in the coming matches,” said Ramesh Sahu, who came from Sundargarh district to witness the matches.
Besides the matches featuring the Sardar Singh-led Indian team, people, particularly school students, are coming to witness other games as well.
India will face the Netherlands Tuesday.
“We have received a tremendous response in terms of ticket sales. Tickets for India matches have already sold out and we are expecting large crowd in coming matches,” said a Hockey India (HI) official.
Odisha, which has been producing talented hockey players, has a huge fan base for the sport. Since the state is hosting such a big international sporting event for the first time, the excitement among people is increasing.
The Kalinga Stadium has a seating capacity of 7,000 spectators. So far, the state has produced three hockey captains (Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey) for the men’s team along with two captains (Subhadra Pradhan and Jyoti Sunita Kullu) for the women’s team. (IANS)