Bhubaneswar, May 31 (IANS): Ahead of the four-nation Intercontinental Cup 2023 scheduled in June, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday inaugurated three football training centres in Bhubaneswar.
Patnaik inaugurated the Odisha Football Academy, Bhubaneswar Football Academy, and the Capital Arena Football. The men's national team captain Sunil Chhetri was also present on the occasion to usher in a new era of football in Odisha.
The initiative was developed at a cost of Rs 90 crore and features a total of six FIFA certified pitches, including five natural and one synthetic turf, LED lights, players' changing rooms, gallery, gym, coaches' room and other amenities.
The three centres are located at the heart of the city and are at close vicinity to each other, thus giving an added advantage to the players to train simultaneously, especially during tournaments.
Patnaik said, "It is a great pleasure and pride to inaugurate the Odisha Football Academy, the Bhubaneswar Football Academy, and the Capital Football Arena. These sports infrastructure mark a significant milestone in the development of football in Odisha. They will provide a world-class training facility to the players."
With the launch of the three centres, Odisha aims to strengthen the football ecosystem and provide a nurturing environment for aspiring footballers to grow and flourish, he said.
"I believe that these new facilities will not only encourage the youth to pursue their passion for football, but also serve as a hub for football training in the country," Patnaik said.
The Chief Minister also announced that a girls' football academy with artificial turf will be constructed at Aul in Kendrapara district.
There is a lot of passion for football in the state, hence a grassroots level training programme will be introduced for the 6-12 age group at the three academies to encourage young kids from the state to take up football, officials said.
The three centres will be the training ground for the National U-16 and U-19 teams, Odisha FC (men, women and youth) and all state teams (both men and women). Training sessions of U-13, U-15, and U-18 state academies will also be held here.
The centres will also be the venues for state leagues including the FAO League, Odisha Women's League, school leagues, and local leagues, thus promoting an all-round conducive environment for the growth and popularity of football.
The top-quality infrastructure will be on display for the world to see during the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2023, which will feature India, Lebanon, Mongolia and Vanuatu. The tournament will commence on June 9.