Bhubaneswar: In a significant stride towards nurturing Kho Kho talent in the state, in the presence of Shri Naveen Patnaik, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) today inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Odisha to establish a High-Performance Centre in Kho Kho. The aim is to transform Odisha into a premier Kho Kho excellence hub for India.
Chairman 5T and Nabin Odisha VK Pandian was present during the MoU ceremony. Sports minister Tusharkanti Behera, and sports secretary R Vineel Krishna, represented the sports department of Odisha, while AM/NS India was represented by Keiji Kubota, deputy director, Human Resources and Administration, Suparna Nanda, Head Corporate Affairs, Odisha, and Dr. Vikas Yadvendu, Head CSR.
As per the agreement, the government of Odisha will create and maintain the infrastructure of a Kho Kho High Performance Centre (HPC), a facility to be housed in Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar while AM/NS India will operate and manage the HPC and train the Kho Kho players. It will also coach and develop judges for the sport along with their certifications.
The agreement is expected to give a major boost to Kho Kho, an ancient and one of the oldest forms of outdoor sport in India while giving its players prospects for exciting careers in it. It will help in identifying and nurturing amateur Kho Kho talents of Odisha into elite sports professionals. This initiative comes amid a resurgence of Kho Kho across South Asia and further afield, in countries such as England and South Africa.
AM/NS India will operate these activities under its CSR initiative ‘Udaan’, and every year will train 50 athletes under this ‘Elite Senior Kho Kho Programme’. The comprehensive program will offer training to the players and also technical and support manpower for operation of the project. Besides, athletes will gain exposure from participation in state and national level events and competitions. Academic, nutrition and physiotherapy support and skilling of coaches and trainers will contribute to the overall strengthening of the Kho Kho eco system in the country.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said, “Odisha is committed to developing sports in the state and it has been one of our key thrust areas. For the overall development of the children and youth of our state we have been relentlessly focusing on sports infrastructure development, hosting of national and international sporting events, and sponsoring sports persons. I am pleased to see Odisha and AM/NS India, once again coming together for the promotion of sports, especially an indigenous sport like Kho Kho which can attract rural talents. I look forward to another sports success story in Odisha through this association.”
On the occasion, Keiji Kubota said, “This MoU is yet another significant milestone in our commitment to advance sporting excellence in Odisha and India. We are proud to have partnered with the Government of Odisha for several such sports initiatives. We are highly excited for promoting an ancient Indian sport like Kho Kho and are confident that the players of the HPC will take the sport to great heights, which it rightfully deserves”.
Demonstrating its commitment to promoting sports earlier, AM/NS India has collaborated with the government of Odisha for various sports including Gymnastics, Kho Kho and Hockey. In 2022, AM/NS India partnered as the principal team sponsor of the State’s Kho Kho franchise ‘Odisha Juggernauts’, which clinched the title of the inaugural edition of Ultimate Kho Kho. Before that, AM/NS India was the Official Partner of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021.