NEW DELHI: The wait is nearly over with just one week left for the domestic season to re-start after the second wave of covid-19 pandemic halted proceedings earlier this year.
The action-packed domestic hockey calendar will kickstart with the 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Men Academy National Championship 2021 in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh starting on 4 October.
The maiden tournament for academies will provide young hockey players a platform to showcase their talent and impress selectors, who will be present at the National Championships. Bhopal which has produced star hockey players in the past and is home to Indian Men's Hockey Olympic Bronze Medalist Vivek Sagar Prasad will witness 24 teams and over 450 athletes and coaches take part in the National Championship.
The participating teams include Berar Hockey Academy (Vidarbha) Amravati, Naval Tata Hockey Academy - Jamshedpur and Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre in Pool A, while Pool B features Bhai Behlo Hockey Academy Bhagta, Namdhari XI, Olympian Vivek Singh Hockey Academy. Pool C features Cheema Hockey Academy, Mumbai Schools Sports Association, Raja Karan Hockey Academy and Pool D features Citizen Hockey XI, Mata Sahib Kaur Hockey Academy Jarkhar - Ludhiana and Roundglass Punjab Hockey Club Academy.
Pool E will include Dhyan Chand Hockey Academy, Markandeshwar Hockey Academy, SAI- Academy and Pool F will feature Ghumanhera Riser's Academy, Malwa Hockey Academy Hanumangarh and SGPC Hockey Academy. Pool G will include HAR Hockey Academy, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Tamil Nadu Hockey Academy while Pool H will see HIM Academy, Jai Bharat Hockey Academy and Vadipatti Raja Hockey Academy vie for honours.
After six days of pool matches, the quarter finals will be played on 10 October, the semi-finals will be held on 12 October whereas the Medal matches are scheduled for 13 October.
Government of Madhya Pradesh has left no stone unturned in their preparations to host a successful tournament and also provide a safe environment for the athletes to compete. Smt. Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Hon’ble Minister, Department of Sports & Youth Welfare, Technical Education, Skill Development & Employment said, "We are very happy that Hockey India has given us the opportunity to host the 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Men Academy National Championship 2021 here in Bhopal. After the Indian Men and Women's Hockey teams' success in the Tokyo Olympics, there has been tremendous interest in hockey here in Madhya Pradesh and we want to ensure all the participating teams have the best experience of competing here. Having such prestigious tournaments in Bhopal will certainly increase interest and inspire more youngsters to take up the sport."
Hon’ble Sports Minister further emphasized that all safety measures will be in place for the tournament. "Apart from Hockey India SOPs, we will be adhering to guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India as well as the Government of Madhya Pradesh. We look forward to hosting a successful event," she said.
Apart from several SOPs laid out by Hockey India, all athletes and officials need to have the Aarogya Setu app on their devices. They must also follow physical distancing measures at all locations, except athletes on the field. A Covid-19 task force will also be constituted by the organising committee to ensure the implementation of the protocols issued by the MHA and the respective state government.