The Khelo India Women's Hockey League 22 (Under-16) matches will commence from Tuesday (August 16) at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi. The League will see 16 teams divided into Pool A and Pool B vie for top honours.
This will be the first phase of the League which will go on till August 23 with each winning team being awarded three points and one point for each team in the event of a draw.
Grouped in Pool A are, Sports Authority of India 'A', Bhai Behlo Hockey Academy Bhagta, Ghumanhera Riser's Academy, Citizen Hockey XI, Smart Hockey Academy Raipur, Pritam Siwach Hockey Academy Sonepat, Mumbai School Sports Association and Sports Hostel Bhubaneswar.
In Pool B are Sports Authority of India 'B', Anantapur Hockey Academy, HAR Hockey Academy, Delhi Hockey, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Odisha Naval TATA Hockey High Performance Centre, Salute Hockey Academy and Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy.
Talking about the importance of a League for Under-16 age category, Ranjen Ekka, the team manager of Sports Hostel, Bhubaneswar said, "This is a great initiative by Government of India and SAI. Getting the right amount of exposure is critical for budding players in this age group category and an exclusive league for Under-16 girls will definitely motivate academies also to develop more players in the grassroot level. Our team is reaching New Delhi on Monday afternoon, we are well-prepared and look forward to a good outing."
Meanwhile, team manager Akansha of Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy said, "This is a great platform for young players. Earlier, we would end up playing a Under 16-year-old along with senior players because of their talent but they wouldn't get noticed that much but with an exclusive league for this age category, I feel standout players will get recognised and perhaps even get a call up for National Camps so that they are groomed from a young age."
She further added, "Players from our team are very excited to have arrived in New Delhi and are looking forward to a good League. This is only the first phase of the league and we have come well-prepared to finish first."