In view of the surfeit of lopsided matches at the second Hockey India senior National championships that concluded here on Tuesday, Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra revealed that a two-tier system would be introduced beginning next year.
“We plan to have two-tier matches from next year,” he said at the KSHA Stadium ahead of the tournament’s final. “A seeding system will be brought in and 12 teams will (directly start from) the second phase. The remaining will battle it out in the first phase, from which four will advance. Both will be held simultaneously.”
The senior Nationals have also served as trials to select ‘probables’ for the Indian team for the Champions Trophy in Melbourne (December 1 to 9) and the second Asian Champions Trophy in Doha (December 14 to 21).
The National camp to prepare for these two engagements would begin in the middle of next month, Batra said. The venue, though, remained an issue.
“We initially intended to have the camp in Patiala, but I’ve been informed that they can host only the women’s camp and not the men’s. I need to go back and decide on a new venue. Bangalore is not a possibility because of the poor condition of the turf. If nothing works out Pune might be the last option.”
The camp, comprising 48 players, would be handled by coaches Md. Riaz, Clarence Lobo and B.J. Cariappa until head coach Michael Nobbs arrived.
On the delay in Nobbs’s return to the country, Batra said the next step was for the Sports Ministry to take.
“Hockey India has approved the file and it has been sent to the SAI, which has in turn been forwarded to the Sports Ministry. I’m not sure why the ministry has delayed it. Once it is approved there, the visa process takes a week.”
Once Nobbs and the exercise physiologist David John arrived, there would also be a ‘hearing’ with the whole team into India’s poor showing at the Olympic Games.
“All players had to individually send in their reports after the Olympics,” Batra said. “Five players have not sent it yet but we will question them on that. We will have a hearing with everyone, including Nobbs and John, and then chart the way forward.”