Hockey World Cup 2018: Packed stadium in all matches at Bhubaneswar shows the popularity of India’s national game

Australia v Netherlands - FIH Men's Hockey World Cup: Semi-Final
Australia v Netherlands - FIH Men's Hockey World Cup: Semi-Final
Amarjeet Nayak

The men’s Hockey World Cup 2018 hosted by India at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga stadium was a great success. Odisha Government did a tremendous job of creating world class infrastructure, which came in for high praise from one and all.

The opening ceremony for this Hockey World Cup rivalled that of Indian Premier League in grandeur. This is no mean feat, considering cricket has been the only game that has had the money in India to host such ceremonies.

The Odisha Government must be given its due in not just hosting the event successfully, but also sponsoring the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams - a welcome development, and one that is worth emulating by other state governments.

However, the biggest measure of the success of the mega event was the fact the stadium was jam-packed during all matches. The hockey-loving crowds of Odisha thronged the stadium in great number, even on match days where the host nation was not in action.

Though India exited at the quarter-final stage much to the disappointment of the home crowd, that did not deter the crowd from coming in large numbers for the remaining matches. This is a great sign for Indian Hockey. It proves beyond any doubt that field hockey continues to remain very popular in the country.

However, it also shows that games other than cricket need to be organized professionally to be able to draw the crowd to the stadiums. Full stadiums during IPL matches is as much due to people’s interest in cricket, as the organizers’ efforts in not only giving the people in the stadium comfort and entertainment, but also in building up the hype before the event.

The Odisha Government not only built world-class infrastructure, but also built up interest in the mega event through regular advertisements in media as well as through murals and paintings at different places in the city. One hopes that the successful hosting of the Hockey World Cup by Odisha will pave way for hosting many more non-cricket sporting events in India in future.

Edited by Raunak J
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