Indian junior hockey teams qualify for Youth Olympic Games

This is the first time, both the junior hockey teams will participate in the Youth Olympic Games after having missed the first two editions in 2010 and 2014.

The Indian junior women’s team finished runner-up in the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers in Bangkok.   -  Hockey India

The Indian junior men’s and women’s teams have qualified for the Hockey 5’s competition at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games to be held from October 6 to 18, International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced on Thursday.

In the men’s category, India will face stiff competition from defending champion Australia and silver medallist Canada, along with host Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Poland, Mexico, Malaysia, Kenya, Zambia and Vanuatu.

The women’s team will also have its task cut-out as 2014 gold medallist China, host Argentina, Austria, Poland, Uruguay, Mexico, Australia, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Vanuatu will be the other 11 teams giving them competition.

The hockey tournament at the Games will follow the Hockey 5s format where a total of 12 teams in both men’s and women’s category will compete between October 7 to 14 at Youth Olympic Park.

This is the first time, both the junior teams will participate in the Youth Olympic Games after having missed the first two editions in 2010 and 2014.

Hockey India (HI) secretary general Md. Mushtaque Ahmad congratulated the teams for attaining qualification. “Both the Junior Men’s and Women’s teams have worked really hard to qualify for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. I would like to congratulate the teams for showing great determination and securing their place in the quadrennial event for the first time,” he said.

“The Hockey 5s format is very fast-paced and I feel that both our teams are very well equipped to be able to perform exceptionally at the Games in Argentina come October.”

The teams had qualified for the event after participating in the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers in Bangkok, Thailand in April where the men’s team defeated Malaysia 2-1 in the finals in shootout, while the women’s team finished runner-up after losing 1-4 to China in its summit clash.

The Indian men’s team had attained qualification by remaining undefeated throughout its campaign in the Qualifiers. The team played a total of four pool matches which saw it win 25-0 against Thailand, 6-2 against Japan, 21-0 against Hong Kong and 12-5 against South Korea.

In the semifinals, the side overcame Bangladesh 9-2, before coming up on top against a strong Malaysian team, which had held India 4-4 in regulation time.

The Indian junior women’s team also had a successful outing in Thailand as it finished second behind China. The team won all three of its pool matches, beating Singapore 14-0, South Korea 10-0 and host Thailand 9-0 to progress to the semifinal where it defeated Malaysia 4-2.

However, in the final, the Indian team succumbed to a 1-4 loss to China.