Eight teams in fray for inaugural Hockey 5s nationals

Pune: Jharkhand, Odisha and Punjab are expected to be the top contenders when the 1st Hockey India 5-a-side Senior Hockey National Championship 2016 (Men and Women) will be held at the Shiv Chattrapati Sports Complex here from October 26-30.

The eight-team field also includes hosts Maharashtra, Association of Indian Universities, Haryana, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.

This short format for field hockey is being played for the first time in India. The matches will be conducted on a 38.5m x 22.5m size indoor court. This format is being seen as one of the key development for the game worldwide. The objective of Hockey 5’s is to allow flexibility so that it can be played on any surface and on different sized pitches.

A match will consist of three periods of 10 minutes each with an interval of three minutes between the periods. Some of the key differences from the current field hockey format are in terms of the ways goals are scored and penalties imposed.

Unlike traditional hockey, goals in the shorter format don’t have to be scored from inside the circle. A goal is awarded when the ball crosses the line from anywhere on the court. In addition, the ball is moved using a push, scoop or flick and no hitting is allowed as it is being played at an indoor arena.

In terms of fouls, only free hits and challenges are awarded for respective offences by an attacker or defender. A challenge is similar to the way shootouts are conducted in modern hockey. Free hits and fouls follow the same rules as modern hockey as well.

“Hockey 5s is an exciting format, that has gained a lot of popularity internationally as an alternative to the traditional game. With the introduction of the Hockey India National Championship we can analyse and see how the format can help us build a fan base as well as a player base at the grassroots level,” Hockey India Secretary General Md. Mushtaque Ahmad said.

“It is a very spectator friendly format of the sport, so we are keenly looking forward to it.”