New Delhi: It was in 2018 that All India Football Federation (AIFF) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government of Odisha which has seen a number of national teams — U-15, U-17, Indian Arrows and even the senior women’s team being hosted by the state and gain access to state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure in the process.
The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar was the home venue for the Indian Arrows for the 2018-19 season of the I-League, and has hosted both editions of the Super Cup, along with the Gold Cup in February last year, where the Indian senior women’s team faced off against Myanmar, Nepal and IR Iran.
Hailing the partnership with Odisha Sports, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das highlighted the major impact of the partnership on the sport in India and thanked the Government of Odisha for their support.
“The MoU with the Government of Odisha has had a major impact on the development of Indian Football. A number of teams have been hosted and trained making use of the State of the Art facilities at the Kalinga Stadium complex. I thank the Government of Odisha for their invaluable support and look forward to continuing the relationship strengthening the efforts for the continued growth of the sport in the country,” he stated.
Vishal Kumar Dev, commissioner cum secretary, Sports & Youth Services, Government of Odisha highlighted sports being a top priority.
“Sports continues to be a top priority for the Government of Odisha. The Odisha High-Performance Centre for National Youth Teams mark a convergence between the vision of the Govt. of Odisha and the All India Football Federation. The Govt. of Odisha, along with AIFF, is committed to strengthening the roots of Indian Football at the youth level in Odisha and India. This is a unique initiative, one, which other States would also do well to emulate, and thereby contribute to rapid development of the Indian Football landscape,” he stated.
Midfielder Amarjit Kiyam, currently a member of the senior Indian team, talked about the infrastructure at the Kalinga Stadium, which he feels enabled all members of the Indian Arrows (2018-19 batch) to play a stylish brand of football, obtaining some memorable results in the process.
“The stadium pitch was perfect. It allowed us to play our possession-style game which was a key feature of that Arrows team. The training pitch was excellent too and had floodlights which allowed us to train in the evening as well. Where in India do you get that,” he quipped.
The 2003-born age group of the AIFF Academy youth set-up led by head coach Shuvendu Panda have been residing and training at the Kalinga Stadium — where they have access to the stadium’s world-class gym, swimming pool and the state-of-the-art High Performance Centre.