Temperature checks, compulsory hand sanitizer channels at hostels, pitch-side and dining areas, RTPCR tests, and quarantine cells — these are some of the measures being taken by the organisers of the 5th SNBP All-India Hockey Tournament (Boys’ Under-16), to be played here from Tuesday.
In all 24 teams will feature in the fifth edition of the event — the only prize-money hockey tournament conducted for Under-16s in the country. The tournament, recognised by Hockey India, will be held at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi, from Nov 9-15.
With this being the first invitational tournament for the under-16 age group after the Covid-19 relaxation in the state, the S.E. Society’s SNBP Group of Institutes, the organisers, have made arrangements according to the SOPs issued by Hockey India and the guidelines set by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
“We have received permission and Covid-19 guidelines from the Pune Municipal Corporation as well as Hockey India and accordingly we are going to follow all protocols and will be thoroughly equipped with the same,” Firoz Shaikh, Tournament Convenor, told IANS.
The organisers have tied up with a local hospital to maintain both on and off-the-field precautionary measures. The participants will be checked for temperature and, likewise, put through a compulsory hand sanitizer channel set up at hostels, pitch side, and at the dining area. They have also put up flex everywhere in the hostel campus and ground area.
The organisers have also tied up with a diagnostic lab to conduct RTPCR tests and have also kept two rooms reserved as quarantine cells.
“It is very unfortunate that the pandemic was a setback to one and all. Sports generally across the world, including India, took a big hit. We are glad that we are back to do our bit for the national sport, which we are committed to and will continue as our passion,” said Dr. Vrishali Bhosale, Organising Chairman & President of SNBP Group.
Despite spending money on fulfilling the SOPs and Covid-19 protocol, the organisers have also enhanced the total prize fund this year and the winning team will take home a cheque of Rs 1 lakh. The total prize fund of the event, which also includes a state-level women’s hockey tournament, will be Rs 2.80 lakh — an increase of Rs 1.35 over the previous edition.
On the field, the team to watch will be the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey, who recently finished runners-up at the 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Men Academy National Championship 2021 at Bhopal. Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), a semifinalist at Bhopal and a runner-up of the 4th SNBP tournament, will also be seen in action.
The 24 teams, drawn from 13 states including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, and Orissa, have been divided into eight groups, with each group comprising three teams, that will play on a round-robin basis. The group topper from each group will qualify for the knockout quarter-finals. The semifinals will be held on November 14 and the final on the next day.
While hockey aficionados will keep an eye on the action on the field, the administrators will keep an eye on how the protocols are being followed because this will set a template for organisers of other invitational tournaments in the country.