Men and women to be part of same team at 5-a-side Hockey Nationals

To attract more eyeballs and diversify the sport, Hockey India will introduce a mixed team competition at the 2nd 5-a-side Senior National Hockey Championships in Pune next month. Each team’s squad will include four women players, at least two of whom will have to be in the playing area at any given time.
The move by Hockey India is aimed at attracting more eyeballs.(Getty Images - image only for representative purposes)
The move by Hockey India is aimed at attracting more eyeballs.(Getty Images - image only for representative purposes)
Updated on Nov 01, 2017 08:02 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By B Shrikant

Sports like tennis, badminton and squash have mixed doubles competitions while shooting is experimenting with it. Now, hockey wants to join the bandwagon.

For the first time in the history of Indian hockey, a national-level mixed team event will be organised – a five-a-side game.

Mixed team hockey will make its debut at the 2nd Hockey India five-a-side Senior National Championships to be held at Pune from November 14-19, 2017.

In all, eight teams of nine players each, including four women, will be participating in the event that will be played in an indoor field of 38.5m x 22.5m dimension.

READ | Indian women’s hockey team beat Malaysia 2-0, top Asia Cup group

Five players, two of them female, will have to be on the field at any given time, otherwise the team will incur a penalty.

The goalkeeper could be either male or female.

The matches will be of 30-minute duration divided into three periods with a break of three minutes separating each period. Goals can be scored from any part of the field unlike conventional hockey in which they can only be scored from inside the shooting circle.

Eight teams — Haryana, Uttar Pradesh , Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Jharkhand — will be divided into two pools for the maiden competition to be held at the boxing hall at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi.

The five-a-side mixed team (combined) event will be a part of the Nationals which will also include separate men’s and women’s only events, with eight teams in each competition.

READ | Indian women’s hockey team thump China 4-1 in Asia Cup

“It’s a new concept. Hockey Maharashtra organised the 1st five-a-side Senior National Championship last year and got a good response, so we decided to organise another edition,” said Hockey Maharashtra treasurer Manoj Bhore.

He said the concept had been proposed by international hockey federation (FIH) president Narinder Batra and is an attempt to attract diverse crowds to the sport that is losing spectators.

Though a mixed team competition is played at club level in some European countries involving teams with 11 players, five of them female, this is probably the first time it is being held as part of the National championship.

Gender equality

Though neither Hockey India nor FIH would like to accept, the mixed competition could be an option for the sport at the Olympics, as that would push hockey’s case as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants to cut down on the number of competitors at the quadrennial games and also maintain gender equality.

Though hockey’s position in the Olympic movement has never been in doubt, mixed team competition could be proposed as an alternative third discipline in hockey by cutting down on the number of teams in men’s and women’s sections.

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