Here is some good news for hockey lovers. Action will continue much after the Hockey India League (HIL) concludes this season as the 7th Senior National Men’s hockey championship is slated in the state capital in April-May.
A mindboggling 120 matches are scheduled to be played during the 20-day event, which is a record of sorts as 100 matches were played in the last edition. The ‘B division’ matches comprising 36 teams will be played from April 17 to 29. As many as 20 teams will be seen in action in the ‘A division’ scheduled from April 27 to May 7.
The matches will be played at the Major Dhyanchand Stadium and the Padmashri Mohd Shahid Stadium in Vijayantkhand Stadium (Gomti Nagar).
This will be the sixth national championship being conducted by Uttar Pradesh Hockey. Prior to this, it conducted two senior men’s nationals, two senior women’s nationals and one junior men’s nationals besides the junior men’s hockey World Cup in December.
The nationals hold a lot of importance for Hockey India, as probables for next year’s Commonwealth and Asian Games and the World Cup will be shortlisted from here.
Terming the nationals ‘very important’, chief coach of the junior India team, Harendra Singh, said that the nationals not only give an opportunity to the players to showcase their talent, they also help them earn livelihood by getting them jobs and promotions.
“More than 1000 players will be playing for 56 teams and this is the biggest-ever platform for a player to stake claim to a berth in the probables’ list,” Harendra said.
“Any player left out for some reason in the HIL can showcase his talent to impress selectors in the nationals,” he said.
He added that despite having core groups in both junior and senior categories, Hockey India was always open to spotting talent. “Even if you get 10 good players in the nationals, it will give impetus to the game in India,” he opined.