The women’s hockey in the country is surely going to get a big boost as the Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament Society (JNHTS) braces up to host the first-ever SNBP Nehru Senior Women Hockey Tournament at the Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi from December 1-10. JNHTS, which has earned a great reputation for consistently and successfully conducting the Nehru Senior Men Hockey Tournaments across 57 editions since its inception way back in 1963, took it upon itsel to hold the 1st SNBP Senior Women H ockey Tournament with Pune-based educational group SNBP coming forward to sponsor the tournament.
Holding a Senior Women Hockey Tournament is easier said than done as not many domestic teams feature in the men’s category, have their women hockey teams in place. This makes it all the more challenging for any organiser to hold any Senior Women Hockey Tournament. “We really had to put in a lot of efforts to get twelve teams on board and have this Senior Women Hockey Tournament. I’m sure this inaugural edition would encourage domestic women’s hockey and the current domestic men’s teams to put in place women teams that would make domestic women hockey hyper-competitve,” says JNHTS Secretary General and forme international hockey umpire and administrator Kukoo Walia.
Interestingly, teams like Indian Oil and Income Tax have ramped up hiring of women hockey players in recent times. Indian Oil have hired current national women team goalkeeeper Bichu Devi Kharibam, defender Ishika Chaudhary and forwards Rajwinder Kaur and Sharmila Devi besides a host of Indian junior playes like Suman Devi Thoudam, Rashmita Minz, Deepika, and Baljeet Kaur. Income Tax has the likes of former Indian women hockey team captain Ritu Rani and former India drag-flicker Jaspreet Kaur. “We tried reaching out to Indian Oil and Income Tax and both of them do not a team ready for participation in the 1st SNBP Senior Women Hockey Tournament,” explains Walia.
As many as twelve teams would battle it out in the ten-day tournament. Formidable Indian Railways, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), CRPF, Steel Plant Sports Board, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA), Gwalior and Maharaja Ranjit Singh Hockey Academy, Amritsar have been directly seeded into the quarterfinal league stage. These six teams would be joined by two teams from the knockout phase featuring three teams in Pool A and Pool B – the winner of Pool A and Pool B making it to the quarterfinal league stage.
Ghumanhera Women Hockey Academy, HFB, NCR Women Hockey Academy, and SAI TOP Noce, New Delhi are pitted in Pool A, while SAI Noce Mumbai, Top NCOE Bhopal, and Pritam Siwach Women Hockey Academy, Sonepat are placed in Pool B. The Pool A winner would join Indian Railways, CRPF, and Maharaja Ranjit Singh Hockey Academy, Amritsar in the quarterfinal league, while Pool B winner would join Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA), Gwalior, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), and Steel Plant Sports Board in the quarterfinal league.
The semifinals are slated for December 9, while the final would be held on December 10. Dr. Vrishali Bhosale, President, SNBP Group, would grace the December 10 final as the Chief Guest.