Bhubaneswar: With six days to go for the Hockey World League (HWL) Final Bhubaneswar 2017, hockey fever is gripping Odisha as international teams participating in the coveted season finale have started arriving.
While people are making a beeline to buy tickets for the matches, the eight-nation meet has turned out to be an amazing experience for for the volunteers.
The mega event will see top teams in the world battle for supremacy starting December 1 when defending champions Australia will meet India in their first Pool B match while England will take on Germany.
For Nilam Sanjeep Xess, 18-year-old fullback from Bargarh district, volunteering at the tournament also means that he gets to watch and follow top international teams from close quarters.
Nilam is not new to international hockey. He was the skipper of the Indian U-18 Men’s Team that won the U-18 Men’s Asia Cup in 2016. He was also part of the India ‘A’ Team that participated at the Australian Hockey League (AHL) in Perth. With the tournament being played in his home state, he was more than excited to volunteer for the event.
Nilam will be among the 200 plus volunteers who have been engaged to ensure smooth operations during the prestigious event.
“It is great pride that such a big event is happening in my home state. Though during the Hockey India League, I have played with many of the players who will be here for the event, to watch them turn up for their national teams will be a different experience.
“I can get to watch them closely, how they prepare before a match, how they unwind, how they train in practice session during tournaments. This will be an experience that will undoubtedly benefit me to improve my game too,” expressed the lanky Odisha lad.
“When the 2014 Champions Trophy took place here at the Kalinga Stadium, I watched all matches from the stands. I was inspired by the performances of our players there and decided then that I should also play for India. Now with a big event coming back to Bhubaneswar, it is inspiring for many of us to be part of it in some way or the other,” he added.
Like Nilam, four other state players Binit Ekka (18), left half for the state team, Ashwin Kujur (18) forward, Chandrakant Barik (20) fullback and Ashok Lakra (20) forward will be volunteering at the event.
While volunteering will be a great learning experience for the young lads, the fact that their home state players Dipsan Tirkey, Amit Rohidas and Birendra Lakra turning up in national colours is also a big inspiration for them.
Biswa Ranjan Sarangi (39), who officiated as a Judge at the recently held Hero Men’s Asia Cup, is also from Bhubaneswar and will be associated with the event as volunteer. He will be joined by national umpire Rajen Ekka and Nishan Jyoti Mohanty (31) as volunteer.
England and Defending Champions Australia, who are grouped with India in Pool B, will arrive at the Biju Patnaik International Airport on Sunday.
World No.3 Belgium too will land in the temple city of Bhubaneswar on Sunday, while Olympic champions Argentina, Germany and the Netherlands will arrive on Monday. Spain will arrive on November 28.
India will play their first practice match against Argentina on November 27 followed by a match against England on November 28.