Bhubaneswar, May 30 (IANS): Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has bought the first ticket for the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2023 football tournament that will be played at Bhubaneswar from June 9-18. The four-nation tournament will feature India, Lebanon, Mongolia, and Vanuatu.
Captain of the Indian Football team, Sunil Chhetri handed the first ticket for the marquee event to the Chief Minister in the presence of Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, the General Secretary of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) and coach of the Indian Football team, Igor Stimac.
Following the success of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, the state is all set to host yet another international sporting spectacle.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, "There is a lot of love for football amongst the people of Odisha. Hosting this spectacular event is another honour for us and will undoubtedly thrill the numerous football fans across the state and India. I would like to wish the teams the best of luck and encourage the fans to turn out in huge numbers to watch the top-quality football that will unfold."
Odisha has been emerging as a major hub for football as well. Odisha hosted the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup 2022, SAFF U-20 Championship 2022, matches during the ISL seasons, IWL 2021-22, and the Odisha Women's League, thus providing a huge boost to the development of the football ecosystem in the state.
In partnership with AIFF, Bhubaneswar is also the base of the Indian U1-6 and U-19 teams, frequently hosting camps and training sessions at the state-of-the-art infrastructure.
The interest in football in the state continues to grow as the state-partnered Odisha FC which is based out of the Kalinga Sports Complex recently brought home the coveted Super Cup. The partnership with Odisha FC has enabled the state to build a robust grassroots system. Odisha is also the only state that has two teams competing in the Indian Women's League (IWL).
The Intercontinental Cup is set to kick off on June 9 with Lebanon taking on Vanuatu while the home team will be taking on Mongolia in their first game of the campaign.