Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], January 30 (ANI): The FIH Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar - Rourkela has come to a close with Germany taking home the coveted trophy following a thrilling penalty shootout against former champions, Belgium on Sunday.
As the final whistle blew and Germany was declared the champion, it marked the end of a massively successful event. The hotly contested final match was graced by the presence of the Governor of Odisha, Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren and Minister of Sports and Youth Services, Odisha, Tusharkanti Behera. Also in attendance throughout the day were Former Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde and former Indian Captain and Hockey Legend Dhanraj Pillai, as per a Hockey Indian press release.
As 44 matches of high-octane action unfolded, the response to the event as a whole, has been tremendous, with fans from all over the world flocking to Odisha to soak in the atmosphere and support their teams. The tournament was held at two venues, the Kalinga Stadium and the radiant Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium, built as quickly as 15 months. The stadium was recently inducted into the Guinness Book of Records for being the largest seated hockey stadium in the world.
"For many of us it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in front of so many people," said Australian captain Eddie Ockenden when asked about the match experience in Odisha.
The facilities at both venues have also impressed athletes and fans alike, with one athlete quoted as saying, "The facilities here are top-notch, it has been an honour to compete on such a world-class stage."
But it was not just the hockey that left an impression on fans and the competitors, as the tournament also featured a host of cultural experiences, fan parks, and tourism initiatives within the city and beyond. These initiatives created an immersive experience for fans, giving them the opportunity to fully engage with the culture of Odisha and India. The cultural activities were a particular highlight, with fans from all over the world enjoying the traditional music, dance, and food of the region and even from other competing nations.
Mariano Ronconi, coach of the Argentina Men's Hockey Team could not help but be impressed by the effort that had been made to make the city as welcoming as possible. "The city is amazing; the streets are painted and beautifully lit and there is hockey in everything. We knew it from before but the city still manages to surprise us every time."
The fan parks were also a huge success, providing a lively and festive atmosphere for fans to gather, watch the matches, and support their teams. The fan parks were equipped with state-of-the-art screens, food and beverage options, and entertainment for all ages.
Beyond the fan parks, tourism initiatives were also in place to showcase the beauty and rich culture of Odisha and India. One fan from Australia, Jeremy Craig, who took a tour of the 'Temple City' said, "I was blown away by the beauty and history of this place, it is truly a hidden gem that I never knew existed. I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience it as part of the Hockey World Cup."
One fan from Germany, ecstatic about his team's victory, spoke about his experience, "The hospitality here has been incredible, the city and its culture have truly captured my heart. The indigenous culinary experience and the Bharatpur safari were my favorite. I will definitely be back."
The event has put the state and the country on the global sports map, showcasing the world-class facilities and the rich culture on offer. The tournament has been a resounding success, not just for the sport of hockey, but for the entire nation. The facilities, the hospitality, and the organization of the tournament were all praised by fans and athletes alike, with many already looking forward to the next edition of the Hockey World Cup in India. (ANI)