Visit the India Surf Festival held at Ramchandi beach along the Konark-Puri coastline and you will be astonished at the number of participants and visitors that eagerly show up every year. Surfers from India, Italy, Brazil, Singapore, Spain, Morocco, etc throng the festival with thousands of avid visitors turning up to cheer them on. However, though the festival is being organised at a happening place in Odisha to encourage adventure sports in the state, there is sparse participation of local residents, which is disheartening and surprising as well. Top honours are never bagged by anyone from Odisha with the few state participants bowing out in the preliminary rounds. In fact, not just surfing, but strangely no other adventure sport is seen to be enjoying popularity amongst Odias.
Let’s first analyse if the state has the potential to be an adventure sports hotspot. What are the prerequisites? Mountains – for trekking, mountain biking or rock climbing; Bridges/tall structures – for bungee jumping; Rivers/Rapids – for white water rafting; Open sea – for deep sea diving and snorkelling; and Flat land – for paramotoring, paragliding, hand gliding, hot air balloon, off-roading, dirt biking, etc. Doesn’t Odisha have it all? So why are there so few adventure sports hotspots in the state with almost no excitement among the people to indulge in them?
Here’s hoping that the tides may soon change. Recognising the vast potential of the state, the authorities are slowly making efforts to develop many coastline stretches and include water sports like jet skiing, banana boats, ATBs, etc, with supporting lifeguards and rescue equipment. The Ramchandi beach is already in the news and the Gopalpur beach is also being pepped up. We hope, with enough infrastructures in place and tourists streaming in to enjoy the adventure sports facilities, it might encourage the locals to indulge too.
What is your view? In your opinion how can we motivate our youth and promote adventure sports in Odisha? And can Odias come out on top?