Bengaluru: Aiming to strengthen hockey at the grassroots level, Hockey India
on Tuesday announced several programs beginning with a zonal championship from March 19.
The Grassroots Development Program has been designed to unearth talent which can then translate into bench strength of the national men and women’s teams. Announcing the initiative, HI president
Dilip Tirkey emphasised on holistic development of age-group hockey.
The zonal championships will be conducted in the U-16 (sub-junior) and U-19 (junior) categories in the south, north, east and west zones. In the first competition starting on March 19, around 30 state teams are expected to participate. They will then play an inter-zonal championship. A selection committee in each zone with shortlist potential players.
“Young athletes will be exposed to the same conditions as in the Nationals at the zonal championships. The shortlisted players will then participate in the National championship,” said Tirkey.
Tirkey also spelt out the need to identify players for specific positions and train them. To begin with 10 male and female players will be selected in the drag-flick and goalkeeping departments. They will be trained by foreign and Indian coaches.
“The Grassroots Development Committee will identify training locations and adequate facilities will be provided to conduct specialized coaching camps with the support of Hockey India,” he said.
AGE-GROUP NATIONAL TEAMS
Aimed at providing competition and opportunities for age-group players, Hockey India has planned to form the India U-17 and U-19 teams. These teams will participate in domestic
tournaments and will travel abroad on exposure tours. The U-23 national development squad will also be integrated to serve as a feeder for the Indian teams.
“We will talk to other national federations to send our teams abroad for competitions. We will also invite teams from other countries,” added Tirkey.
While foreign coaches are the flavour of the senior team, Hockey India is looking at grooming Indian coaches for its ambitious program. A special coaches’ panel will be formed for the inter-zonal championship. The criteria for the coaches will be a minimum of FIH Level 1 certificate.
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