"We are almost at par with international standards" - Odisha Govt's Jt. Secretary of Sports Shri Ranjit Parida on state's investment in infrastructure

Odisha Govt
Odisha Govt's Jt. Secretary, Shri Ranjit Parida, at a hockey event.

Odisha Government's Jt. Secretary of Sports, Shri Ranjit Parida has played an integral part in policy formation and development administration, having completed 18 years in public service.

Now, as Odisha unveils its high-performance centers, centers of excellence and the impressive Sports Science Centre, Parida has been one of the key persons behind the development of sports infrastructure and a high-performance ecosystem in the state.

Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda on the sidelines of the FIH Pro League at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Ranjit Parida opened up on a variety of topics, including Odisha matching international standards in sports science and the state recently hosting the second edition of Ultimate Kho Kho.

He believes that the advanced facilities of sports in India will not stop athletes from going abroad for training and recovery completely, but will rather complement them.

"This is a very qualified question and people of that calibre should be able to answer. I am not a sports person but what I feel - it is not a question of me being forced to train in a foreign academy. It is a question of the mix. I mean it is not a question of retaining them in the country itself. It is a question of complementing it in a way that he should not feel that I was in India that is why I couldn't pursue my passion. We are almost at par with the international standards now," he said.

He cited the example of high altitude training for why athletes might choose to travel and train in a different location as the forced environment just cannot match what the natural environment is.

"The thing is that there are certain things which may require, suppose you take the case of high altitude training," Ranjit Parida said. "So no matter how conducive your forced environment is but it cannot match with the actual high altitude setting which someone will get if he trains at Ooty or if he goes abroad to New Zealand and all. So there are certain things which are game specific."

Despite this, he agrees that the significant financial commitments to this are buoyed by a will to provide athletes with the facilities to train in India itself. However, Parida feels that it will be too early to comment on whether this will stop athletes from going abroad overall.

"Having said that I must say our heavy investment in sports science is propelled by this thought process only. The modern day sport if it is all about science then why not build something which will complement our sporting ecosystem and our sports person should feel comfortable. The athlete should feel that I will get the justified amount of advice and rehab if I go to this sports science center at Kalinga.
"It is very, it would be premature to say that it will completely do away with the requirements of somebody having to train abroad. But yes we have come of age. Sport per se has taken a giant step in our country now. So more or less we are actually complementing the abroad facilities. So it can be a mix," Ranjit Parida said.

He threw light upon how previously, the likes of Kishore Kumar Jena and India's Golden Boy Neeraj Chopra trained in Kalinga before going abroad, further emphasizing the significant development of the facilities available in India.

"Like Kishore Kumar Jena was training here. So he is leaving for abroad after this training, Australia. Neeraj Chopra also came here before Tokyo. Neeraj was here for almost two months. So I will look at it from this perspective because it is not about completely doing away with abroad training. Yes there are certain other things as well to abroad training. But if you will see things from the facility per se we are at par with other facilities abroad," he asserted.

"That goes well with our sentiments" - Joint Secretary of Sports Shri Ranjit Parida on reason behind Odisha Government owning Ultimate Kho Kho franchise

Having recently hosted Ultimate Kho Kho which concluded in January, Ranjit Parida spoke about the sport's popularity in the state and their improved performance in kho kho at the Khelo India Games.

"Kho kho has been very close to us because in our villages kho kho is played when we were kids also we pursued kho kho," he continued. "So kho kho is rampant in Odisha's villages and all and it's a very fast-paced game. And I believe that when we are advocating about early specialization and all, kho kho is a game which is closely related to this athletics - you get fierce running around and agility.
"So that way if you could just trace back our kho kho performances since last 4-5 years, our women teams are very good, our men teams are also very good. Last year Khelo Gold Medal was backed by us in the men's category, women category we lost in the semi-finals. So we are a force to reckon with where kho kho is concerned."

It is rarely seen that a state's government owns a team in any sport's franchise-based league but the Odisha Government is breaking stereotypes and using that as a way to develop sports.

Parida drew a comparison to the hockey team, where the Odisha Government sponsors the Indian national hockey team, a sport that has an immense following in Odisha. Similarly, with kho kho being played there on a large scale too, he believes that owning a team aligns with the sentiments of the government.

"When there is a question about owning up a team and we have shown that zeal by sponsoring the Indian National Hockey team. So government has already shown that intent in 2018 when we were the principal sponsors of the Indian National Hockey team, women, juniors as well," he continued.
"So we already have that passion and when it is about kho kho we thought like when it's about our villages who play this game, why not own a team because that goes well with our sentiments. So like hockey, kho kho is also very passionately followed here," Parida signed off.

Quick Links

Edited by Ankush Das