As many as 26 teams will take to the field in Simdega, Jharkhand where they will vie for top honours in the 11th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship 2021 which begins on Wednesday.
Speaking about the competition, Uttar Pradesh Hockey coach Akram Mahmood said, “I think Hockey Jharkhand and Hockey Haryana will be tough contenders in this tournament. We finished fourth previously and definitely look forward to doing better in this edition.”
“Our preparations have been good and the players are very motivated especially after watching the Indian Women’s Team’s historic performance in the Olympics, they all want to be like them and want to give their best here so that they can get a place in the junior camp, he said.
Meanwhile, the hosts Hockey Jharkhand are keen on putting up their best performance in front of the home crowd. Their coach Pratima Barwa said, “We are very excited to play in front of our home crowd and the team is looking forward to the tournament. We have prepared well for the tournament, paid a lot of attention to our fitness and we will be taking it one-match-at-a-time.”
Azad Singh Malik, coach, Hockey Haryana expressed that all the players in his team want to bring pride and honour to Haryana just like their senior compatriots from the state who were part of the Tokyo Olympics Team. “Our players are all aware that a good show here might find them a place in the national camp. They are very inspired by what their counterparts from Haryana have achieved in hockey and performing well in the nationals is a stepping stone in their career. We are looking forward to a good challenge from all the teams in our pool. We are well prepared to do well and go on till the final round.”
The participating teams include Hockey Jharkhand, Kerala Hockey and Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu in Pool A; Hockey Haryana, Assam Hockey, Hockey Rajasthan in Pool B; Hockey Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Hockey in Pool C while Uttar Pradesh Hockey, Hockey Uttarakhand and Manipur Hockey feature in Pool D.
In Pool E, Hockey Maharashtra, Delhi Hockey and Hockey Gujarat will fight for a place in the knockouts while Hockey Chandigarh, Hockey Bihar, Goans Hockey, Hockey Jammu & Kashmir feature in Pool F. Odisha, Chhattisgarh Hockey, Hockey Himachal and Hockey Madhya Pradesh are grouped in Pool G, whereas Hockey Karnataka, Hockey Punjab, Hockey Bengal and Le Puducherry Hockey are in Pool H.
After six days of pool matches, the quarterfinals will be played on October 26, the semifinals will be held on October 28, whereas the medal matches are scheduled for October 29.