Pune: The 5th Hockey India Senior National Men’s Hockey Championship will be held at the Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Ground, Balewadi, here from April 6 to 28.
The 25-day long championship will be conducted in two Divisions ‘A’ and ‘B’ with 20 teams in the top Division ‘A’ competing for the main title. The ‘B’ Division championship will be held first, from April 6 to 15, while the top rated teams will compete from April 16 to 28.
Defending champion Air India will open the ‘A’ Division campaign on April 16 with a match against Odisha, while Sports Authority of India (SAI) will take on Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy in the second match of Pool ‘A’.
The 20 teams in Division ‘A’ are divided into four pools of five teams each. Maharashtra, which qualified for Division ‘A’ last year from the plate group Division ‘B’, has been clubbed in tough Pool ‘C’ that also includes Uttar Pradesh, Services Sports Control Board, Haryana and Tamil Nadu.
“We want to prepare Maharashtra players for the 2020 Olympic Games and this is a start to identify players who could make it to the Indian team five years from now,” Manoj Bhore, General Secretary of Hockey Maharashtra, told a media conference on Monday.
“Though Maharashtra is grouped in a tough pool, we will try to do our best,” said Bhore, who pointed out that the team has already been shortlisted to 25 players with the final 18 to be announced one week before the start of the championship.
There will be six matches played every day in the league phase with the winners of each Division ‘A’ pools making it to the semifinals.
“Hockey India has provided us a grant to conduct the Senior Nationals and we will leave no stone unturned to make this championship a grand success,” added Bhore.
Maharashtra Olympic Association (MOA) Secretary General Balasaheb Landge, offered all help to Hockey Maharashtra in conducting the championship successfully.
“Pune has everything except good infrastructure for hockey. We have two synthetic turf grounds, but while Balewadi ground has no permanent seating facility, the one at Nehrunagar, Pimpri, is unplayable,” rued Landge.
He said he would press for having new turf at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Pimpri as the one now was laid in 1993 and torn beyond repair.
The National ‘B’ Championship will begin first, on April 6 with Goa taking on Patiala in the opening match.
There are eight pools and 28 teams with Pool A, B, C and F having three teams each while the other have four teams apiece. Teams topping their respective pools will make it to the quarterfinals to be played on April 13. The semifinals are on April 14 and final on April 15.
“A” Division National Championship:
Pool A: Air India, Odisha, SAI, MP Hockey Academy, Andhra Pradesh
Pool B: Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Indian Universities, Jharkhand, Bhopal, Gangpur
Pool C: Uttar Pradesh, SSCB, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra
Pool D: Railways, Punjab, Karnataka, FCI, Mumbai.
“B” Division National Championship:
Pool A: Manipur, Rajasthan, Tripura
Pool B: Andaman and Nicobar, Delhi, Assam
Pool C: Namdhari XI, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala
Pool D: Bengal, Vidarbha, Gujarat, Steel Plant Sports Board
Pool E: Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Goa, Patiala.
Pool F: CRPF, Uttarakhand, CISF
Pool G: Puducherry, Bihar, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Chandigarh
Pool H: Himachal, Sashastra Seema Bal, Madhya Pradesh, Major Port Sports Control Board
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