Nine-a-side to hit hockey

Nine-a-side to hit hockey

Innovative version to be played in Perth in October

Designed and conceptualised by veteran player and super coach Ric Charlesworth, the new format with rules that have been modified for more attractive viewing will be played for the first time during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth from October 27-30.

Four teams -- hosts Australia, neighbours New Zealand, India and Pakistan -- will compete in the men’s section while the participating list for the women’s event is yet to be finalised.

The salient features of this format, approved by the world body International Hockey Federation (FIH), are that each side must have two of its nine players in the attacking half always. Unlike the two 35-minute halves in regular hockey, the match will consist of two 15-minute halves with an half-time interval of five minutes.

Unlimited substitutions are allowed at any time through an interchange area, ensuring that the game is fast and flowing, while the maximum numbers of players a team can choose from is 16. The rules for penalty corners -- one of the important scoring avenues for teams -- have been modified and one-on-one face-offs will take place between a player and the opposing goalkeeper to decide a drawn encounter.

“This is one of the exhibitions we will be putting on during the CHOGM in Perth,” said India’s hockey coach Michael Nobbs. “Ric has modified the rules of original hockey to make it more exciting. Ric has said many times that there might be too many players on the field.

“We probably need to get rid of the penalty corners at some point in time as well. We all need to score goals but currently, penalty corners dominate the balance of a match. I am really happy to see some rule changes and hopefully it brings in more goals.”
Nobbs, who tried out the new format with the national campers on Friday, said the boys enjoyed playing it but found it a bit tough to understand the rules. “They are playing for the first time, so it’s going to be tough. Forget them, even I had a difficult time trying to get to terms with it. Hopefully, we should be good in about four-five weeks,” said the Australian.

Nobbs also said the game has not been tested domestically in his home country.
The selectors of Hockey India, it was confirmed, will be arriving at the SAI campus on Wednesday to conduct a two-day selection trial to narrow down the probables to 48. “We are yet to decide on the schedule. Most of the players pick themselves, it’s just a few that will be up for discussion,” said one of the coaches.

The seminar on the do’s and don’ts of drug use by Dr CD Tripathi, chairman of the Therapeutic Use Exemptions panel, will be held on Tuesday. The seminar, originally scheduled to be held on Monday, was put off following the ‘surprise check’ visit by NADA officials.

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