New Delhi, 26 March: Hockey India on Friday hailed the Odisha Government on winning the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Award for Best Hockey Infrastructure during the AHF Congress held in Mungyeong, Korea on Friday.
The award was presented to the State Government for building the world's largest-seated Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela which also houses an Olympic-style Hockey Village.
The picturesque stadium, named after freedom fighter Birsa Munda, is built over 50 acres of land inside the Biju Patnaik University of Technology campus in the hockey belt of Odisha. It was built in record time of 15 months and boasts of two FIH-approved turfs apart from gymnasiums, recovery centre and Hockey Village that houses over 200 rooms.
With a seating capacity of 20,111 bucket seats, the Birsa Munda Stadium remained sold out throughout the Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar-Rourkela with spectators thronging the stadium for India and non-India matches.
At the recently-held FIH Pro League too, where India remained unbeaten against reigning World Champions Germany and Australia, the Birsa Munda Stadium remained house full.
In other categories, the Indian Men and Women's teams too were feted with AHF Best Achievement Awards respectively for their performances in the year 2022-23. Both teams continue to be the highest-ranked Asian teams in the FIH World Ranking with the Men ranked no.4 and Women ranked no.8 in the world.
The Men's team won the Silver Medal at the CWG 2022, Bronze at the Asia Cup Jakarta and finished third in the FIH Pro League 2021-22 and currently remain on top of the pool table in the ongoing season of the league while the Women's team won a Bronze Medal at the CWG followed by a title win at the FIH Nations Cup in Valencia, Spain which was a qualifying event for the FIH Pro League 2023-24.
Ajit Pal Singh, who successfully led India to World Cup victory in 1975 held in Kaula Lumpur, was awarded with the AHF Ashwini Award for his outstanding achievements in the sport. The 75-year-old legend from Sansarpur village in Punjab also has to his credit two Olympic Bronze Medals from 1968 Mexico City Olympics and 1972 Munich Olympics. Apart from the World Cup Gold, he has won a Silver in the 1973 Amsterdam World Cup and a Bronze Medal in the 1971 Barcelona World Cup.
Congratulating Odisha Government, Hockey Teams and Ajit Pal Singh, Hockey India President Dilip Tirkey said, "It is indeed a momentous occasion for us with Asian Hockey Federation recognising the efforts of state government who played a major role in successfully hosting the World Cup. The Birsa Munda Stadium is a precious gift to world hockey by the visionary Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
On behalf of Hockey India, I extend my deepest gratitude and also congratulate the entire workforce of the Odisha Government who tirelessly worked towards completing the construction of the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in a record time of 15 months. The AHF Best Hockey Infrastructure Award is a befitting honour for the state's efforts."