Chennai: The Indian Hockey Federation is embarking on a new territory — indoor hockey.
Convinced that the time has come to popularise and specialise in this branch, India is fielding a team in the eight-nation competition, being held alongside the Asian Indoor Games at Macau from October 26 to November 3.
In fact, the event will be a pioneering effort for several other Asian countries where indoor hockey has just caught the imagination.
The Asian Hockey Federation is keen that as many members as possible in the region pay attention to this branch in which the FIH has even conducted a World Championship last year at Vienna. The AHF is contemplating on making it a continental championship with Iran preparing to play a major role.
The Asian Indoor Games at Macau more or less will be a perfect launch pad for initiating several countries into this area of hockey.
The subject of indoor hockey figured prominently in the AHF Council debate in Chennai during the Asia Cup, and a programme has been drafted to include it in the annual calendar.
Preparations for forging an Indian team are well underway at the SAI Centre in Bangalore. Around 30 odd players are undergoing training, and those exhibiting the flair for indoor hockey will make the grade for the Macau edition.
Observers and coaches are convinced that this form of hockey holds immense benefit for the players. They feel that sharp trapping skills noticed in the approach of the European teams stem mainly from frequent indoor appearances, which many of them are compelled to do during winter months.
How far IHF’s endeavour will help in honing the overall proficiency of players remains a question mark.