Hockey fans buy MS Dhoni jerseys from vendor outside Kalinga stadium

Nov 29, 2018, 18:15 IST | Ashwin Ferro

They are very particular about their breakfast though, and have brought with them packets of special muesli

Hockey fans buy MS Dhoni jerseys from vendor outside Kalinga stadium
A vendor (right) sells MS Dhoni India cricket jerseys to fans outside the Kalinga hockey stadium yesterday. Pics/Ashwin Ferro

It's almost impossible to keep cricket out of any sporting extravaganza in the country. Yesterday, outside the Kalinga Stadium where the Hockey World Cup began, some vendors were selling the Indian cricket team's jerseys and fans were gladly purchasing them. Dhoni jerseys were being sold for R150. When this correspondent asked a customer as to why he was buying a cricket jersey at a hockey World Cup, his reply was most interesting: "It is the jersey of our national team — it doesn't matter what sport it is."

Fan village, a huge hit
The Odisha government has done a brilliant job in promoting the hockey World Cup here and their few 100 crores of rupees seem well spent. The Fan Village inside the Kalinga Stadium is one such well thought out and interactive marketing initiative. Fans can play hockey on mini turfs set up with free hockey sticks provided and can even watch the World Cup matches on a giant screen. There are multiple food courts and hockey equipment-selling stalls offering great discounts. Last evening, many families with kids were seen trying their hand at the game for the first time and loving it. Now, if the Indian team can match the fans' off-field enthusiasm with some good on-field performances, hockey can top the popularity charts once again.

Children try their hand at some hockey at the Fan Village in the Kalinga Stadium yesterda
Children try their hand at some hockey at the Fan Village in the Kalinga Stadium yesterday

Food for thought
Delhibelly (upset tummies) is a common occurrence for international teams in India, but some of the foreign teams at the hockey World Cup are taking no chances with the food. Former Olympic champions Germany had a bad experience at the Hockey World League finals last December here where a mystery illness, allegedly caused by food, laid a host of their players low. Thus, they played the bronze medal match against India with just 11 fit players, and lost. This time, they have a nutritionist with them to monitor whatever the players eat. England, have taken things to another level. They have refused to eat in their plush team hotel, but instead have hired a small restaurant's kitchen nearby where special food will be prepared for them. The Netherlands, meanwhile have no problem with local food. They are very particular about their breakfast though, and have brought with them packets of special muesli.

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