Hockey India on Tuesday announced their new Grassroots Development Program which is designed to unearth young talent and improve the bench strength of the National Senior and Junior teams for men and women.
Under this initiative, the governing body for hockey in the country will conduct zonal championships at the Sub-Junior (U-16) and Junior (U-19) levels. The program aims to find the most talented players in each of the zones – north, south, east and west.
The first inter-zonal tournaments will begin on 19th March 2023, with an expected 30 state teams participating.
President of Hockey India, Padma Shri Dr Dilip Tirkey, spoke about the potential impact of the introduction of Zonal Championships, “The Zonal Championships will provide young athletes with exposure to the same match conditions as the Hockey India National Championships. Shortlisted athletes identified in the zonal championships will be required to participate in the National Championships, giving them opportunities to further develop their Hockey skills.”
The programs aims to track the development of players from the age of U16 and monitor their progression throughout their career. This will enable Hockey India to identify the current skill set of each player and focus on honing and polishing their skills.
Hockey India officials are also looking to create U17 and U19 Indian teams and send them for domestic and foreign exposure. This will help players gain experience and draw in more fans, generating interest in the sport.