Indian hockey has been in a revival mode since the exceptional performance of both men and women’s team in the Tokyo Olympics. The hockey events of the 36th National Games which begins at the Dhyanchand Hockey stadium on Sunday could possibly unearth new talents and give the much-needed push to the game in the country.
With only the top eight teams in fray, the competition is expected to be of high standards and it is a chance for many young players to come into the national reckoning. The teams will be in full strength with SAI asking all national campers to join their respective teams for the National Games. Haryana, the reigning men’s champion, runner-up Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka are the seeded teams. However, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, the two States with good pedigree in the game, can spring a couple of surprises. Defending champion Punjab hasn’t qualified for the event
Odisha, which won its maiden senior women’s title early this year, will aim to repeat that triumph at the National Games. Defending champion Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka, and Jharkhand are strong sides which are capable of winning the gold.
However, the format of the tournament is such that irrespective of the standing in the league after the preliminary round all eight teams will qualify for the knock out quarterfinals.