Hummingbird News Desk
NEW DELHI, 7 MARCH: Hockey India (HI) on Tuesday has announced the launch of their new development program that aims to boost the sport at the grassroots level. This program is designed to discover young talent and enhance the bench strength of the National Senior and Junior teams for men and women.
Under the initiative, HI will organize zonal championships for Sub-Junior (U-16) and Junior (U-19) levels. The program aims to identify the most talented players in each of the zones across the country. The first inter-zonal tournaments will begin on March 19, with an expected participation of 30 state teams.
HI President Dilip Tirkey stated that the Zonal Championships would provide young athletes with exposure to the same match conditions as the National Championships. Shortlisted players identified in the zonal championships will be required to participate in the National Championships, giving them opportunities to develop their hockey skills further.
The officials of HI will be focusing on developing players in specialized positions such as goalkeepers and drag flickers. Initially, a group of ten men and women goalkeepers and drag flickers will be selected and trained under Indian as well as foreign coaches. The Grassroots Development Committee will identify locations for the players’ training, and adequate facilities will be provided for conducting specialized coaching camps with the support of HI.
The program aims to monitor the development of players from the age of U16 and track their progression throughout their career. This will enable Hockey India to identify the current skill set of each player and focus on honing and polishing their skills.
HI is also looking to create U17 and U19 teams and send them for domestic and foreign exposure. This will help players gain experience and generate interest in the sport, drawing in more fans. As a result, the future bench strength of the main Junior and Senior teams is expected to become stronger.
To supplement their vision, HI will identify two crucial components. A special coach’s panel is being formed for the Inter-Zonal Championship, which will consist of coaches who hold a minimum FIH Level 1 Certificate. This panel will not only coach the teams participating in the championship but also ensure the development of their fellow domestic coaches.
Along with coaches and players, match officials are also crucial to the success of hockey in India. Hockey India Secretary General Mr. Bhola Nath Singh said, “Match officials are as important as coaches and players. We already have a list of promising technical officials from across the country, they will form a robust match officials panel that will officiate the grassroots tournaments,” Tirkey added.
The development of players will be strictly scrutinized as they proceed through the various development phases, and finally, the U-23 National development squad will also be integrated into the ecosystem to serve as a feeder for the national team. The implementation of this program is expected to enhance the sport’s overall development in India and produce skilled players who will represent India in the international arena.
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