In a first of its kind tournament, 14 teams will compete and vie for top honours at the Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021. The tournament that kick-starts today, will be held in Bhubaneswar at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium. Commending Hockey India's move to host an exclusive championship for academies, Coach Pradeep Kumar Sarangi, from Sports Authority of India (SAI) Academy, said to The New Indian Express, “Organising a National Championship exclusively for academies is a very good step taken by Hockey India. It provides a great opportunity for young and upcoming players and creates healthy competition against different academies. Our players are very excited to play here at the Kalinga stadium.”
Among the participating academies, the Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy is a clear favourite. However, Paramjit Singh maintains a modest stance. “Firstly, I feel this is a fantastic opportunity to better ourselves for the future. Earlier academies would have a small group of players where the same players would end up playing two or three championships a year,” Singh told the paper. “With Hockey India introducing new rules where a player can participate only in one tournament, it will ensure academies will work on creating a larger group of players in the sub-junior and junior categories. Though this year, due to the pandemic, we have not been able to bring our strongest teams, we will know how to plan for this tournament and create good players at the grassroots,” he added.
As per details on the tournament schedule, the 1st Hockey India Sub-Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will consist of six days of pool matches, and the qualifying teams will compete in the semi-finals slated for March 24. The deciding match for bronze and gold will be held on March 25. The 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will also feature six days of pool matches. The semi-finals will be held on March 25, and the finals as well as the bronze medal game will take place on March 26.
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