Lack of a proper junior structure has forced Hockey India (HI) to restrict the selection of its men’s under-21 team to just a 3-day trial.
While HI didn’t conduct junior nationals, infighting within Indian hockey meant that it ignored the junior events conducted and backed by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).
As a result, HI has now left talent hunting to state units and various academies, who have been asked to send their best 4-6 players for the trials in Jalandhar.
“It is sad that due to the attitude of HI, many youngsters didn’t get the chance to showcase their talent (at national level). Now, it is up to the state associations to decide the players they want to send,” said a coach. “HI should have called players for trials on the basis of performance in the junior nationals conducted by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).”
Problem for girls
Last month, HI picked the under-18 girls team for the Asia Cup in Bangkok beginning today, through trials.
The girls were called for trials on the basis of their performance in the senior nationals held in Sonepat.
Similarly to select the girls’ under-21 team for the 4-nation Shastri Cup, HI is conducting trials in Bhopal from September 28 to 30.
Earlier, due to the absence of a junior programme, India had not sent teams for both boys and girls’ junior Asia Cup.
‘The Best option’
“As the junior nationals were not held because of time and budget constraints, an open trial was the best alternative to select the teams.
“If we had waited for the nationals, we would have deprived the junior players of international exposure,” said chief selector Col Balbir Singh, who is currently in Jalandhar for the trials.
While IHF has been conducting junior nationals, private societies have been holding junior events, like the Nehru Cup, successfully. But their proximity to the IHF hasn’t gone down well with HI.