After Tokyo Olympics, what next for Indian hockey?

The Indian men's hockey team with the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics
The Indian men's hockey team with the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics
Hari Kishore M

The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams have raised the hopes of fans following a good show at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The teams punched above their weight and finished the campaign with impressive performances.

While the men’s hockey team won an Olympic medal after four decades, the women’s team finished on a high by equaling their best-ever Olympic finish.

Consistency is the most important aspect in sport and that is what the Indian teams will try to attain in their next outings.

The Indian men’s hockey team’s focus will now shift to the Asian Champions Trophy in October. The Champions Trophy will be held from October 1 to October 9 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Asian Champions Trophy will feature Asia’s top-six teams playing in a round-robin format. In the last edition of the Asian Champions Trophy in 2018, both India and Pakistan were declared joint winners, with Malaysia beating Japan to finish third.

Both India and Pakistan are the most successful teams in the history of the Asian Champions Trophy with three titles each. The tournament was supposed to be held in November 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a postponement.

The six teams – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea – will play in a round-robin format with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals.

Similarly, the Indian women’s hockey team will also compete in the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy for their next assignment. It will be held from October 24 to October 31 in Donghae, South Korea.

The Indian women’s hockey team had won the tournament only once – in 2016. India will feature in the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy alongside China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand.

Originally only five teams used to take part in the women’s tournament of the Champions Trophy but it was expanded to six teams from this year’s edition.

South Korea is the most successful women’s hockey team with three titles. The Champions Trophy will be the last international assignment for both the men’s and the women’s teams this year.

The focus for the men’s hockey team next year will be the Pro-League featuring India, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. The women’s hockey team will be focusing on the Women’s World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

Also Read: Olympics 2021: Fourteen days that transformed Indian hockey

The Indian hockey teams are expected to join the national camp at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Center in Bengaluru before the Champions Trophy.

Going by their latest showing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, a good outing in the forthcoming tournaments will be crucial for further development of Indian hockey. The key will lie in maintaining consistency as the teams prepare for the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Paris Olympics 2024.

The junior hockey teams, which act as feeders for the senior squads, have an action-packed international schedule for the rest of the year as well.

The men's junior hockey team will take part in the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup from November 24 to December 5, 2021. They will follow it up with an appearance in the Men's Junior Asia Cup to be held in Bangladesh later this year.

The women's junior hockey team's only international assignment this year will be the Women's Asia Cup to be held in Kakamigahara, Japan. The dates for the tournament are yet to be announced.

Also read: Sjoerd Marijne steps down as Indian women’s hockey team coach, Janneke Schopman tipped to be chief coach

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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