The country’s domestic hockey circuit has hardly seen any activity since the Covid-19 pandemic hit us in the early part of 2020. But all that will be a thing of the past as big-time domestic hockey awaits us with the prestigious 38th Surjit Hockey Tournament getting underway at the Army AstroTurf Hockey Ground, Katoch Stadium, Jalandhar Cantonment, from Saturday. The Army AstroTurf Hockey Ground has been chosen as the venue for the 38th Surjit Hockey Tournament as the earlier venue – Surjit Hockey stadium is witnessing renovation work to replace the old astroturf.
The nine-day tournament – considered one of the coveted hockey tournaments – is organized every year by Surjit Hockey Society in fond memory of former Olympian and fullback Surjit Singh, who had died in a fatal road accident near Jallandhar in 1984. This time around, as many as 12 teams including defending champions Punjab & Sind Bank, Delhi, runners-up team Indian Oil, Mumbai will take part in the tourney. Other participating teams include Air India Mumbai, Indian Army, Delhi, Indian Navy Mumbai, Indian Railways, Indian Air Force Delhi, CRPF, Delhi, Punjab Police, Punjab National Bank, Delhi, BSF Jalandhar and RCF, Kapurthala.
The 38th Surjit Hockey Tournament would be played on league-cum-knockout basis. In a departure from the earlier editions, this year all 12 teams will compete in the quarter final league phase with 3 teams divided into 4 pools. The top four teams from each pool will qualify for the semifinals that is slated to be held on October 30 and the final on October 31.
According to the organizers, no gate entry money will be charged from the spectators who will come to witness the game of hockey. The winning team will take home a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, which is sponsored by the renowned sports promoter and NRI Amolak Singh Gakhal, CMD of Gakhal Group of USA. The runners up team will receive a cash award of Rs 2.5 lakh, which is sponsored by Baba Tarlok Singh Satsang Ghar, Kahna Dhesian (Jalandhar). The best player of the tournament will get Mohinder Singh Tut Memorial Award along with a cash prize of Rs 25,000, which is sponsored by Ranbir Singh Rana Tut.
It may be worth recalling that the 37th Surjit Hockey Tournament was not held in 2020 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic – Punjab & Sind Bank won the 36th edition in 2019 pipping Indian Oil, Mumbai 6-3 via a shootout after both teams were locked 2-2 in regulation time. Interestingly Indian Oil has taken a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of play with goals from Roshan Minz and Affan Yousuf. The bankmen launched their comeback in the second quarter and levelled the issue with strikes from Gaganpreet Singh and Ashish Pal Sharma.
The final two quarters did not produce any goals and the shootout had to be applied where the bankmen had the last laugh. Maninderjit Singh, Santa Singh, Gaganpreet Singh and Harmanjit Singh scored Punjab & Sind Bank in the shootout while Indian Oil could convert only once via Gurjinder Singh.
For the stats-minded, Punjab & Sind Bank won the Surjit Hockey Tourney a record 11 times, while Punjab Police have won it 6 times. Indian Oil have won it 4 times while Bharat Petroleum have won it 3 times.