Hockey India introduces program for Grassroot development

Hockey India officials are particularly interested in developing players in specialized positions, such as goalkeepers and drag flickers.

Indian women's team player Vandana Katariya in a file photo (Image Credits - Twitter)
By Abhiruchi Rout | Mar 7, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Hockey India has recently unveiled a new initiative, the Grassroots Development Program. It is designed to boost the development of young talent and improve the strength of the country’s national senior and junior hockey teams. The program will feature zonal championships at the Sub-Junior (U-16) and Junior (U-19) levels. This is to identify the most promising players from different regions of the country. The first inter-zonal tournaments will take place on March 19, 2023, and will involve around 30 state teams.

According to Padma Shri Dr. Dilip Tirkey, the President of Hockey India, the Zonal Championships will provide young athletes with opportunities to play under the same match conditions as the Hockey India National Championships. Thus, it will allow them to further develop their hockey skills. Each zone will have its own selection panel to promote the identification of talented athletes. The selection committee will consist of a minimum of three members each, who will be responsible for monitoring the development of all players.

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What is Hockey India planning to do?

Hockey India officials are particularly interested in developing players in specialized positions, such as goalkeepers and drag flickers. A set of ten men and women, particularly goalkeepers and drag flickers, will train under Indian and foreign coaches. The Grassroots Development Committee will identify suitable locations for player training. Also, adequate facilities will be provided for conducting specialized coaching camps with the support of the organization. The program intends to record the growth of the players from the age of U16 and monitor their progression throughout their journey. It will also focus on developing players in junior and sub-junior teams, with the zonal championships allowing players to take pride in playing for their regional team and enhancing their resumes.

There are also plans to establish U17 and U19 Indian teams and provide them domestic and foreign exposure. This will provide players with valuable experience and attract more fans, generating greater interest in the sport. This will result in the future bench strength of the main Junior and Senior Indian teams become more stronger. The development of players will be strictly scrutinized as they proceed through various stages of development.

To supplement their vision, Hockey India has identified two crucial components. They are (i) a special coach’s panel and (ii) a robust match officials panel. The coach’s panel, which will consist of coaches holding a minimum FIH Level 1 Certificate, will coach the teams participating in the championship and ensure the development of their fellow domestic coaches. Match officials are equally important as coaches and players. Hockey India has identified a list of promising technical officials from the country who will officiate in the grassroots tournaments.

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What the public thinks about the program?

The new Grassroots Development Program has been well received by the Indian hockey community, with many recognizing its potential to discover and develop young hockey talent. The program’s focus on developing specialized positions and tracking the progression of players from a young age is particularly noteworthy. The zonal championships will provide young players with valuable exposure to match conditions similar to those of the Hockey India National Championships. The creation of U17 and U19 Indian teams will allow players to gain valuable experience at the national level.

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