Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 got underway in Odisha on Wednesday with a grand opening ceremony at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack with performances from top stars like Ranveer Singh and Disha Patani, singers like Neeti Mohan and even K-Pop band BlackSwan. The evening began with a transcendental dance performance led by Odissi dancing legend, Guru Aruna Mohanty’s troop, cheered on loudly by the local crowds. Culturally auspicious, the dance reflected the innate spirit of Odisha and paid tribute to its rich heritage.
The official anthem of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023: “Hockey Hai Dil Mera” was performed live by the composer of the anthem, Pritam along with the 11 singers who sang the original song. The anthem set the stage for unveiling of the FIH Men’s World Cup trophy as FIH President Tayyab Ikram was joined on the stage by Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Pattnaik, Indian Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Anurag Thakur, and President of Hockey India, Dilip Tirkey.
“I love the song “Hockey Hai Dil Mera”! Namaskar to the fans in the stadium! Thank you to the Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Pattnaik and the people of Odisha. I carry the thanks of the world of hockey and players of hockey from all over. I also wish to thank the central government and Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narender Modi for his support to hockey. I heard everyone mention that Odisha is the land of culture and heritage,” FIH President Tayyab Ikram said.
Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Anurag Thakur said, “This is a great moment to be hosting the hockey world cup & every Indian is excited to watch it! I commend the efforts made by the state of Odisha and Hockey India in putting together what promises to be a fantastic edition of the Hockey World Cup and also for giving India one of the best hockey stadiums in the world, in Rourkela.”
Addressing the cheering crowd, Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik said: “Odisha has long been known for its hospitality, and I am sure all the visitors will take a small part of Odisha back with them. I also wish to thank the Prime Minister and the central government for all their support.”
Crowds filled the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, Odisha, with 45,000 fans, joining the spectacular trophy celebrations that marked the start of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela. Odisha will host the tournament in both these cities and a showpiece of the tournament is a brand new Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.
Speaking to NDTV, Vineel Krishna, Secretary Sports & Youth services, Govt of Odisha, said, “The main importance of this stadium is that not only is it big and beautiful. It is also in the heartland of Hockey. This hockey stadium was built in an area from where several Hockey greats were produced. It is in a city like Rourkela. So it is going to be an inspiration for thousands of hockey players for decades to come.”
SK Priyadarshi, the Commissioner of Police of Bhubaneswar-Cuttack told NDTV, “You know we have become experienced in this. We organised this in 2018 and we are organising it again in 2022. What is an important challenge for us is that the tournament starts on 13th in Rourkela and Bhubaneswar and from the arrival of the teams, we have factored in security, escort for practice sessions and PSOs for them as well. It’s a challenge for the police but we are geared up for this and we are prepared to ensure that everyone enjoys the games.”
The night of song and dance opened the World Cup and set the stage for a thrilling edition of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, which will get underway on 13 January 2023, with the first two matches of the day being played in Bhubaneswar followed by two more matches in the evening, in the brand-new Birsa Munda International Hockey stadium in Rourkela.