Asian Youth Olympic Games: Indian boys to begin campaign against Cambodia

The team is grouped alongside South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China and Cambodia in Pool A.

The tourney will offer the boys’ and girls’ team good exposure, according to Hockey India’s High Performance Director David John.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

The Indian boys’ team is scheduled to play Cambodia in its opening match at the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifier, as per the schedule announced by the Asian Hockey Federation on Wednesday. It is pooled alongside South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China and Cambodia in Pool A in the tourney that begins on April 25.

The girls’ team, in Pool B, is grouped alongside South Korea, Thailand and Singapore which it will face in the opening match of its campaign.

The five-day event, meant for players in the age group of 15 to 18 years, will follow the futuristic Hockey 5’s format along with with the Youth Olympic Games.

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Hockey India’s High Performance Director David John underlined the challenge ahead for the teams. He said, “By winning this tournament, teams become eligible for the Youth Olympic Games, so we have to go there to win. It will be challenging because it’s Hockey 5s and the nature of the game can be quite unpredictable.

‘Need more exposure’

“Though Hockey India is promoting five-a-side hockey through its annual national championship event, the players need more exposure in this format. The teams are training hard under Jude Felix (for boys) and Baljeet Singh Saini (for girls) at the Agra five-a-side hockey facility.”

Hockey was introduced at the Youth Olympic Games in the 2010 edition. The inaugural edition was an outdoor hockey event, in which Australia won the gold medal, defeating Pakistan 2-1. In 2014, Hockey 5’s was introduced, and Australia again emerged victorious, beating Canada 3-2 on penalty strokes after a 3-3 draw at the end of regulation time.

The girl’s editions were won by Netherlands in 2010 and China in 2014.

John visualised the value of the tourney. “The qualifiers in Bangkok will give opportunity to the junior players to play an international tournament and see where they stand among the Asian competitors,” he said.

He added, “If we win in Asia and qualify for the Youth Olympic Games then it gives us an opportunity to compare this age group to other countries and assess where we stand.”