BHUBANESWAR: The much-anticipated FIH Odisha Hockey Men's Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021, which will see 16 top teams from across the globe vie for the title, was declared open Wednesday by Ganeshi Lal, Governor of Odisha.
The Opening Ceremony held here at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium, which has previously hosted marquee events like the FIH Men's World Cup in 2018, also witnessed Shri Tusharkanti Behera, Hon'ble Minister for Sports & Youth Services, Govt of Odisha, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, President FIH, Padma Shri Dr Dilip Tirkey, Chairman, Hockey Promotion Council Odisha, Gyanendro Ningombam, President, Hockey India and Rajinder Singh, Secretary General, Hockey India, grace the occasion which was held ahead of the hosts and defending Champions India's match against France.
As a token of his appreciation and gratitude, FIH president Narinder Batra presented the replica of the Junior World Cup trophy to Lal.
Wishing all the participating teams the very best for their campaign at the Junior World Cup, Lal said, "I am extremely happy that Odisha got this opportunity to host this showpiece event. Odisha has a deep connect with Hockey. Over the years the Sports has evolved in the country and Odisha has been a preferred hub for hockey."
"Odisha has hosted the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2018 and will do so again in 2023 and it gives me immense delight that today we are hosting the Junior World Cup in Odisha, India and I congratulate each and every player who has reached this stage. It is a matter of great pride for their country too and we are happy to be hosting you all. I am pleased to welcome all participants India for the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2021. I would like to extend a special welcome especially to those international guests, who are visiting India for their first time." he added.
Thanking the Governor for extending his support to the event, Gyanendro Ningombam, president of Hockey India said, "We are absolutely delighted that the hockey festivities have returned to Odisha, a state which is highly respected world over for their incredible ability to host world-class sporting events in the state. This is one of the biggest events in the international hockey calendar and we are ever-thankful to the Government of Odisha who have always extended their support to our sport."
"We are also grateful to his Excellency Shri Ganeshi Lal, Hon'ble Governor of Odisha who graced the opening ceremony and declared the prestigious tournament open," Ningombam expressed.
The Opening Ceremony, which saw fireworks lighting up the night sky of Bhubaneswar, also included all 16 Captains from the participating teams taking a photo along with the coveted trophy. Earlier in the day, there were exciting matches played out. While Belgium beat South Africa 5-1 in their first Pool A game, Germany got the better of Pakistan as they defeated them 5-2 in their Pool D match and Canada lost to Poland 0-1 in their first Pool B game.