The substantial success of sporting events can be largely attributed to the backing and encouragement provided by State governments.
Tamil Nadu has demonstrated proficiency in areas including infrastructure, finance, and collaboration with national federations and other State associations. This has culminated in triumphant events like the Chess Olympiad (July–August 2022), the Squash World Cup (June 2023), and the recently concluded Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament at Chennai’s Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.
Atulya Misra, the Sports Secretary of Tamil Nadu, possesses a comprehensive understanding of the state’s sporting landscape, having previously served as a Member Secretary of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu in 2007.
When questioned about the takeaways from the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament, Misra noted, “Learning is an ongoing process. We continue to learn each day,” during a discussion with Sportstar.
He highlighted the essential role of an active State government partnership in hosting sporting events, as it involves crowd management and the overhaul of the city and stadium. He emphasized a significant initiative, the ‘Pass the Ball trophy tour,’ which significantly boosted the sport of hockey across many districts.
Misra affirmed that Chennai has emerged as a preferred sports hub, particularly when there is a determined and equitable political executive will. He emphasized the meticulousness of their event execution, which is endorsed by various national federations favoring Chennai as their preferred venue due to the State government’s efficient coordination.
Recognizing the broader impact of sports events, Misra acknowledged that they transcend the stadium’s boundaries. He illustrated this with an example from the Asian Champions Trophy, highlighting how it could be leveraged to promote social causes like the ‘drive against drugs’ initiative. He also underlined the environmentally conscious attributes of the German-imported turf.
According to Misra, stadiums must continue to host events—international, national, or State-level—periodically to prevent them from falling into disuse. He stressed the importance of periodic major tournaments to ensure the maintenance and improvement of these grand venues.
He emphasized the success of collaborations among State associations, national federations, and State governments, highlighting the need for seamless cooperation without any confusion or interpersonal conflicts.
However, Misra added a caveat, stating, “Ultimately, the games don’t belong to the government; they belong to the associations and national federations. Governments, at best, can facilitate. Let’s be clear about that.”
Misra regarded the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the governments of Tamil Nadu and Odisha as a transformative factor. He detailed that the visit of Mr. Udhayanidhi Stalin, the Sports Minister, to the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela led to the signing of the MOU. This step eliminated the need to start from scratch and enabled them to tailor the existing Bisra Munda Stadium to their requirements.
Misra praised the dedication of Hockey India, the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, and the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, who worked tirelessly day and night to ensure the resounding success of the tournament.