Odisha is one of the few states which actively promotes all sports on a national platform with them sponsoring the Indian hockey team, and inaugurating three football centers in the state, which are hosting the ongoing Intercontinental Cup. Along with these initiatives it has various academies which help underprivileged children to play sports, one of them is the Ardor football academy from which two kids were selected for special training in Spain.
Suelkha Kanhar, a 16-year-old girl from Salia Sahi in Bhubaneswar, and Srijal Kisku, a 12-year-old boy from a tribal-dominated village in Sundargarh district were selected by UEFA-pro licensed coaches for special training. the coaches held a three-day camp at ODM Global School in which more than 180 children participated.
Their coach Jayadev Mahapatra was proud of his students and said that it was the first time anyone from the state had been selected to play in Spain. 12-year-old Srijal wants to play nationals in India and he said, "I started playing football when I was six years old. Now I am 12 years old. My aim is to play national."
Kanhar wants to play in the European League as she said after the selection, "I have been playing football for two years now. I am honing my skill under the watchful eyes of JD Sir. Sheila Football Club has selected Shreejal and me. We will have to give trials there. My hope is to get selected and play European League."
Sulekha lost her father at a very young age and her mother Mina Tirkey working as a daily worker took a lot of hardship to raise her. In 2022, she was selected for Mata Rukmani Football Club (MRFC) to play in the Indian Women’s League (IWL). Odisha has a history of identifying talented youngsters from economically poor regions. In 2016 Chandan Nayak, an 11-year-old football prodigy from the Munda Sahi slum near Kalinga Stadium, was selected to train at the Bayern Munich Academy in Germany.