In order to ensure a level playing field, Hockey India (HI) has restructured the conduct of the National hockey championships from this year.

Matches between unequal teams have always been a low point of National championships and HI hopes that the introduction of two divisions at each level will make the events more interesting.

“We will get the 20 stronger teams in one competition (‘A’ division) and the minnows in a different competition ('B' division). If all of them play together, then the stronger sides beat the weaker teams by big margins. It makes the event monotonous and proves demoralising for the weaker teams,” HI Secretary General Narinder Batra told The Hindu on Saturday.

“The sides which finish at the bottom of the table of the ‘A’ division will be relegated and the top two finishers in the ‘B’ division will get promoted. This format is applicable for all the senior, junior and sub-junior events in men and women's sections. This will enhance the interest in the National championships.”

The National ‘B’ division men’s championship, to be held in Lucknow from February 27 to March 13, will be the first event to be played under the new format. The ‘A’ division competition will also be organised at the same centre from March 11 to 23.

The ‘A’ and ‘B’ division National championships for women will be held at Bhopal from March 13 to 20 and March 18 to 23 respectively. “The other reason behind breaking up the National championship is that any centre which hosts around 40 teams finds it difficult to handle so many people simultaneously. Holding different competitions will help the organiser conduct these in a better way.

“We are also trying to allocate National championships to those centres, which are well-connected. This will make things much easier for the players as well as the officials.”

Batra also informed that in future different centres might be allowed to host individual division of a National championship.

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