Indian Super League 2019-20: Will It Be a Sweet Homecoming for Odisha FC?
ISL 2019-20: Odisha FC will take the field at the Kalinga Stadium for the first time this season against Jamshedpur FC.
Odisha FC (Photo Credit: ISL)
Bhubaneswar: Odisha FC are finally returning home! After playing their first three 'home' matches at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune due to the non-availability of Kalinga Stadium, Odisha are back to Bhubaneswar and Shubham Sarangi is excited.
Odisha FC have not exactly fired in the Indian Super League 2019-20 with nine points in nine matches but at the half-way stage, there is plenty to look forward to.
With the fans having to wait for two months before their team's debut at the Kalinga Stadium, Odisha are now ready to take the field and Sarangi, whose parents belong to the state even though he was born in Vishakhapatnam and brought up in Delhi, is happy about it.
"I have never stayed in Odisha but that is where my roots from. I am looking forward to play in the state. A lot of local people have come up and told me that they want to see me in the stadium to back me. In the past four-five years, the Odisha government has been putting in a lot of effort in bringing a sporting culture in the state, which is a good thing. That motivates the entire team," said Sarangi.
The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has witnessed good support for games hosted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) in recent years. In the last two years, it has been home to AIFF's developmental side Indian Arrows, hosted the 2019 Women's Gold Cup and Indian Women's League, besides the Super Cup.
Like fellow ISL club Jamshedpur FC, Odisha are also based out of a small town rather than a big city. Going by the Jamshedpur example, playing football in a closely-knit community can bring people together to enjoy the game and attract more crowd into the stadium.
Jamshedpur FC has the maximum percentage of attendances for their home matches for the last two seasons and rarely have empty seats.
In the past, Odisha has produced several footballers, from former Mohun Bagan player Rajendra Prasad Singh to more recently, youngsters like Rakesh Oram and Bekey Oram. Odisha FC's presence may help more players to come out of the state.
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