Mumbai: Odisha has been awarded the ‘Best State for the Promotion of Sports’ at the 2023 Sportstar Aces 2023 Awards. The state won this prestigious award for the fourth time. The recognition comes as a result of the state’s unique sports model, which is built around the pillars of partnership for sporting excellence, competition, coaching, infrastructure and welfare schemes for meritorious athletes.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik received this award from Suresh Nambath, Editor, The Hindu and legendary Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar today at a ceremony hosted by The Hindu Group in Mumbai.

The awards jury comprised an eminent panel of champions, with former Indian Captain Sunil Gavaskar at the helm. Other members include, Abhinav Bindra, Aparna Popat, Anjali Bhagwat, Bhaichung Bhutia, MM Somaya and Viswanathan Anand.

Thanking The Hindu group – Sportstar for awarding Odisha as the best state in sports promotion, Chief Minister dedicated this award to the people of Odisha.

Chief minister Patnaik lauded the hard work and commitment of the athletes. He also went to commend Sportstar for their work in recognising the efforts of athletes across India. He said, “This event serves as a wonderful platform to celebrate their (athletes) contributions to the world of sports and to inspire future generations to pursue their passions. Athletes are the true ambassadors of our country, and it is our duty to support and encourage them in every way possible.”

Chief minister further added, “We are making huge investment in sports, which is investment in youth and therefore investment in our future. We have increased our budget for sports by more than 10 times in last five years. In the coming year, our sports budget is more than 1200 crores. We have successfully hosted many global events including the recent Hockey World Cup. We are building world class facilities and nurturing talent through high performance centres and competitions. I invite you to be and be part of Odisha’s sporting journey and together we can bring glory to Indian sports. It’s the collective dream of all Indian to see the national flag fly high at the Olympics. We should all work together and make it a reality.”

In 2022, athletes from the state of Odisha brought laurels by winning medals in international and national competitions. Furthermore, the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 held in Bhubaneswar – Rourkela has garnered attention and admiration for the state of Odisha in the sports fraternity. In 2022, Odisha hosted international competitions such as Odisha Open, SAAF U20 Championship, FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup , FIBA 2022 (SABA Qualifiers), FIH Hockey Pro League, and National competitions such as Indian Women’s League, Aquatic Junior Nationals, IWLF Youth Juniors and Senior National Weightlifting Championship 2022, Para Athletics Championship and Para Badminton Nationals to name a few.

Odisha under the leadership of CM Naveen Patnaik is also prioritizing the development of sports infrastructure in the state. It is committed to creating state-of-the-art facilities that can serve as a training ground for budding athletes. The iconic Kalinga Sports Complex is one of the finest sports facilities in the country. Several mega sports projects within its premises including India’s first Indoor Athletics Centre, Tennis Court, Indoor Aquatics Centre, Hockey High Performance Centre and an elaborate Sports Science Centre are near completion and will play a significant role in developing champions of tomorrow for the country.

In Rourkela, the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium was recently inducted into the Guinness book of world records as the largest fully-seated hockey stadium of the world. Despite an abundance of pandemic induced challenges, the facility which also houses an Olympic-style Hockey Village with 225 rooms was built in merely 15 months.

Similarly, to promote sports and fitness in the society, Odisha is developing 90 multi-purpose indoor halls across all urban areas. These are complemented with a wide range of other sports infrastructure including swimming pool training centres, football training centres, hockey training centres and sports complexes.

The SportStar Aces Awards recognize excellence in sports in India and are highly prestigious. Odisha’s Best State for the Promotion of Sport honour is a testament to the state’s commitment to promoting sports and providing athletes with the necessary resources to succeed. It is a well-deserved recognition for the state’s efforts in the field of sports and a testament to their commitment to developing world-class sports infrastructure.