Hockey India restructures national championships

The previous system of A and B Division will no longer exist. Hockey India has now created separate competitions for states, institutions and academies across age-groups.

Hockey India's restructuring of the national championships will help maximise athlete participation.   -  Getty Images

A day after indefinitely postponing all remaining National Championships for 2020, Hockey India on Wednesday announced a re-structured format for conducting the same from 2021 onwards, removing the existing two-tier system and creating separating competitions for states, institutions and academies across age-groups.

The new format, approved by the Hockey India Executive Board, provides for separate National Championships for registered States/Union Territories, Public Sector Units/Departments/Institutions and registered academies. While the PSUs would compete in junior and senior categories for both men and women, the academies would participate at junior and sub-junior levels. The national championships for state units, however, would be held across all age groups – sub-junior, junior and senior.

READ: Hockey India postpones all national championships indefinitely

HI has also decided to allow a player to represent only one team and one age-category “to ensure more athletes are given the opportunity to participate”. It has also been mandatory for States to conduct their respective championships in each category to be eligible to field a team at the National Championships.

“The previous system of A and B Divisions would no longer prevail. By this restructuring, we want to encourage more states and Union Territories to develop players in their regions and Institutions to pursue hockey,” Hockey India president Mohd. Mushtaq Ahmad said.

The competitions, would continue to be played on a league-cum-knock out format, with pools depending on the final numbers of participants. The classifications and eligibility would be on the basis of the final results of the last National Championships before December 31, 2020. However, given the fact that the various age-group competitions for the year are uncertain, it is likely the 2019 edition might be used for classifications.

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This is not the first time HI has changed the format for its national championships. The A and B Division structure was introduced in 2014 to address the issue of largely mismatched games between stronger and weaker teams, specially in the initial rounds. Prior to that, the senior tournaments were held at one go while the age-group events had zonal competitions before a national finals.

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