Domestic hockey in India kick-started on Monday with a goal-fest as the sub-junior men's academy National Championship commenced in Bhopal. A total of 24 teams, vying for top honors, are in the fray.
The tournament started on a bang with Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre drubbing a listless Berar Hockey Academy, Vidarbha 30-0 in a lop-sided contest.
The Odisha Naval Tata Academy were on the money from the word go by scoring in the second minute. The horror for the Vidarbha team continued until the 60th minute.
In the second match of the day, Olympian Vivek Singh Hockey Academy beat Bhai Behlo Hockey Academy 12-1. Raja Karan Hockey Academy got the better of Cheema Hockey Academy 8-0 in the third match of the morning.
In the final match of the opening day’s evening, RoundGlass Punjab Hockey Club Academy scored 19 goals past a hapless Citizen Hockey XI.
Domestic hockey vital to improve talent pool
The commencement of domestic hockey tournaments in the country will help the talent pool grow after a stagnant year. The head coach at the Naval Tata Hockey Academy said the sub-junior national hockey tournament is a great opportunity for academies to increase the talent pool.
"It is great that Hockey India has now started an Inter Academy Nationals for Sub Junior category. Now that the first edition is kicking off, the academies can also focus on growing the talent pool in the sub-junior category and a prestigious tournament like this will give the players very good exposure," he said.
Rashid Aziz Khan, head coach of SAI-Academy, said the tournament will be a good platform for players to showcase their talent and return with an enriching experience.
"This tournament will provide a very good experience for the players. We held trials at KIIT University for which players came from different parts of the state. We selected 25 players for the camp and had good preparations. Since this is the first tournament in this category, we have not had an opportunity to see the teams, but I am aware that Dhyan Chand Hockey Academy have been preparing for this tournament well in Lucknow and they will put up a good fight.”
After six days of league matches, the knockouts will commence on October 10 with the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be played on October 12 and the medal matches are scheduled for October 13.