Girls hockey gets a boost

The 5th edition of the Jude Felix Hockey Academy (JFHA) tournament, beginning at the hockey stadium on Wednesday, will have a girls’ category for the first time to address a shortcoming in that segment.

“The tournament will be held in three categories — boys, academy and, for the first time, a category for girls, as we feel that is one aspect of hockey that needs a push,” said founder of JFHA, former Indian captain Jude Felix, at a press conference on Monday.

The boys’ event will be an under-16 competition and the academy will be an under-21 event. The girls’ will be an open event.

“There is a dearth of girls’ teams around as there hasn’t been enough awareness raised in that sphere. Teams are hesitant to come out and play, but I feel we can change that perception, this is just a start,” said the Arjuna awardee.

This year’s tournament will be held under lights and Felix believed this innovation could attract larger audiences. “Most school tournaments and junior tournaments are played during the day and that doesn’t help because people are busy during that time. Even parents find it hard to come and support their kids, so we had decided that this year would be under lights, to make it easier for people to come and support these children.”

The tournament will be played in a league format wherein four teams in each of the categories will play the others once to decide the league positions. All four will play the semifinal.

Present and former India hockey stars have come forward to sponsor special prizes for the kids, which will be be presented after each game as well as at the end of the tournament.

“Raghunath (VR), Sreejesh (PR), Nikkin (Thimmaiah) and Helen Mary are some of the players who have come forward to sponsor individual awards for the best players in each match as well as players of the tournament,” added Felix.

Teams: Boys: Maria Niketan, St Joseph’s Briand Square, Vidya Shilp Academy, The Frank Anthony Public School.

Girls: JFHA, St Francis Xavier’s, Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Sports Complex Gachibowli (Hyderabad).

Academy: JFHA (B), RDT (Anantapur), Pathriyad (PD) (Kerala), Sports Complex Gachibowli (B) (Hyderabad).  

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