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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

SNBP u-16 national hockey meet: Three’s a charm for defending champs MP Academy

The tournament for the first time in its three-year history will feature a women’s competition this year.

pune Updated: Oct 01, 2018 16:49 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
(From left) Rutuja Bhosle, director, SNBP Group and Vrushali Bhosle, president, SNBP Group at the press conference at Hotel Shantai in Pune on Thursday.
(From left) Rutuja Bhosle, director, SNBP Group and Vrushali Bhosle, president, SNBP Group at the press conference at Hotel Shantai in Pune on Thursday.(HT PHOTO)

After two enthralling seasons, SE Society’s SNBP is back with the third edition of the all-India hockey tournament (boys’ under-16), which will commence from October 1 at the Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Mhalunge, Balewadi.

Jayshree Venkatraman, principal of SNBP International School, told HT: “I believe this tournament is one of the greatest initiatives to promote a sport like hockey in the country as it is still struggling to leapfrog cricket.”

Two-time winners MP Academy will be looking to make it three wins a row this time around as they once again go into the competition as overwhelming favourites. Pune has representation in the form of two teams – SNBP Academy and SNBP School. It will also be the first time for Sports Authority of Gujarat. This is also the only tournament to be conducted for under-16s at the national level in the state of Maharashtra.

The competition will feature 24 teams from across India and will follow a league-cum-knockout format. Teams will be divided into eight pools of three teams each; which will lead to the pool topper advancing to the quarterfinals.

In the league stage, each team will play the other two sides only once and the eventual eight pool winners will contest the quarterfinals. The semi-finals are scheduled on October 6 and the final will be a day later.

This year’s major talking point is undoubtedly the fact that for the first time its three-year history, the tournament will feature a women’s competition as well. Been in the making for over a year, the officials have lived up to their promise to include a state-level tournament for the women, which will consist of eight teams from around the state.

Dr Vrishali Bhosale, organising chairman and president, SNBP Group, said, “I am glad to announce the women’s tournament. It was on our agenda and was necessary to restore parity. From the beginning our commitment is to promote the sport in our way, in addition to creating a platform for budding players to showcase their talent.

“The project when conceived in 2016 was an ideation of two important aspects; providing an opportunity on a national scale and a platform where players of different talents came together to compete for glory. As we head into the 2018 edition we felt women empowerment was also necessary when it comes to equal opportunity and hence the addition of the women’s event was imperative.”

Unlike the boys’ edition, the women’s competition is open to all age groups and will be a knockout event. Thus, given the number of teams, the tournament virtually begins at the quarterfinal stage, with Pune playing in the curtain raiser on October 5 against Satara. The semifinals are set to take place on October with the final scheduled at 11 am on October 9.

The prize money for both events is Rs 30,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 10,000, for winners, runners-up and semi-finalists, respectively. Doctors from Sancheti and DY Patil hospitals will be on field to provide medical aid to players.

First Published: Oct 01, 2018 16:47 IST