Bhubaneswar, 25 July 2023: Indian football returns to Odisha as The All India Football Federation announced a 34-member core group for Senior Indian Women’s Team ahead of the AFC Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 that is scheduled for later this year. The camp begins on July 30th and will be held at the recently inaugurated Odisha Football Academy in Bhubaneswar, marking another significant development for football in Odisha as the region continues to foster its reputation for exceptional sporting facilities and enabling the participation of women in sport. Notably, the selected squad includes four talented players from Odisha, including Manisa Panna, Juli Kishan, Tudu Jabamani and Pyari Xaxa.
Expressing her pride on her selection in yet another National Camp, veteran defender from Odisha, Manisa Panna said, “I am really looking forward to the training camp. With the AFC qualifiers three months away, this gives us a lot of time for preparations and training. It is also a matter of pride for me that the camp is happening in my state.”
With Odisha rapidly establishing itself as the hub for football in India, Manisa Panna spoke about the state-of-the-art facilities and the broad development of the football ecosystem in the region, she said, “In the last few years we have seen a lot of development for football. Odisha is not only known for hockey now, but also for football. It is very encouraging as we have hosted so many international events such as 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, IWL, Hero Intercontinental Cup and even ISL matches.”
Odisha has paid close attention to the development of Women’s football in the region and is the only state to have teams in the IWL. Manisa Panna went on to highlight the value of the IWL towards developing their respective skill set in a competitive environment. “IWL is a great opportunity for players; more clubs mean more opportunities for players to play with some of the finest national and international players. This will encourage many young girls to take up the game,” she opined.
The on-going collaboration between the Government of Odisha and the All-India Football Federation augurs well for the promotion of football in the state and across the country. Honourable Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik recently inaugurated the Odisha Football Academy, the Bhubaneswar Football Academy and Capital Arena Football as well. The three centres are closely situated and and feature a total of six FIFA certified pitches, including five natural and one synthetic football turf, LED flood lights, players changing room several other top-notch amenities, providing aspiring footballers across genders with crucial infrastructure for training.
Recently the Hero Intercontinental Cup was also held in Bhubaneswar, where the Blue Tigers emerged victorious following a month-long training camp in the city. Additionally, Bhubaneswar serves as the home base for the India U16 and U19 teams, frequently hosting their training camps. The state of Odisha has also forged a strong partnership with Odisha FC that has a men and women’s team to strengthen grassroots efforts, providing them with the prestigious Kalinga Stadium as their home ground, completely free of cost.