Amidst tricky weather conditions, Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) hosted the 6th Andhra Pradesh Junior Women’s Hockey Championship. The tournament saw the Anantapur Mayor M. Swaroopa grace the premises to inaugurate and declare the Championship “Open” after sharing some pleasantries with all the participants of the tournament.
The RDT’s ASV housed close to 225 participants and another 25 team and tournament officials during the four-day tournament which kicked off on the 18th November 2015. Among the teams were strongholds from Vishakhapatnam and Kadapa, “teams that were to watch out for”, enroute to the finals.
The home team representing Anantapur consisted of a major chunk of the ASV Academy Hockey Girls, 17 of whom were joined by one girl from Dharmavaram mandal of Anantapur. In addition to this, were five more ASV academy girls who represented their respective home districts - two each playing for Vishakhapatnam and Kadapa, while the fifth represented Chittoor district.
The tournament was organised in a League cum Knockout format. Teams arrived late evening on the 17th and were all set to begin the tournament early on the next day. The weather was already a cause of concern, as the hosts were experiencing surprise showers on and off throughout the span of the tournament on account of the turbulent weather conditions further down south in Chennai.
The tournament began later in the day on the 18th with nine of the 11 participating teams locking horns in two pools with the toppers from each pool qualifying to play the knock-out stages of the tournament. The remaining two teams, defending champions Anantapur District along with Runners Up East Godavari, qualified directly to the knock out stages, on account of their performance from last year’s competition.
As expected, the teams from Vishakhapatnam and Kadapa districts stood out, to top their respective pools and make it to the semis, with Vishakhapatnam lining up against East Godavari while Kadapa facing hosts Anantapur. In an unexpected turn of events, the teams from Vishakhapatnam and Kadapa lived up to their tags of “Teams to watch out for” and made the finals while last year’s finalists were left to battle for the Third and Fourth places in a Penalty stroke decider.
The final was refereed by S. Thambu Raj from Chennai, a respected gentleman in the southern India Hockey fraternity, and a senior referee on the Hockey India panel of referees. He shared that “This is by far one of the best facilities I have come across. Of my many visits to different tournaments, I thoroughly enjoyed refereeing these games, the kind of talent that was on showcase was incredible. I look forward to seeing these girls play in the higher ranks. A special mention for RDT, who through their ASA program and their ASV facility, are doing a great job to develop hockey in Anantapur and the only thing that they lack is a hockey turf surface to train on”.
The tournament came to a close with Vishakhapatnam getting the better of Kadapa in the finals with a 3-0 scoreline after the third-fourth place penalty stroke decider was won by East Godavari with a 5- 4 scoreline to upset last year’s winners and hosts Anantapur. Managing Director of Olympic Sporting Co., Bangalore, S Bhaktavatsala, a presentation ceremony dignitary, was so impressed by the level of hockey, that he announced he would present the winning teams and their team officials with playing jerseys and track suits. This announcement brought down the curtains to the tournament with an icing on an already very tasty cake.