The Indian Junior Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams have qualified for the Hockey 5’s competition at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games to be held from 6th – 18th October, 2018 as announced by International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Thursday.

The teams had earlier attained qualification to the event after participating in the Men’s and Women’s Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers 2018 respectively in Bangkok, Thailand in April 2018 where the Men’s team defeated Malaysia in the Final match in shootout 2-1, while the Women’s team finished Runners Up after losing 1-4 to China in their Final match.

The FIH has confirmed the 12 women’s and 12 men’s teams that will participate in the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Hockey5s events taking place between 7 and 14 October at Youth Olympic Park.

In the Men’s category, the Indian team will face stiff competition from 2014 Youth Olympic Gold Medalists Australia and Silver Medalists Canada along with hosts Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Poland, Mexico, Malaysia, Kenya, Zambia and Vanuatu. Whereas the Women’s team will have their task cut-out as 2014 Youth Olympic Gold Medalists China, hosts Argentina, Austria, Poland, Uruguay, Mexico, Australia, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Vanuatu will be the other 11 teams giving them competition.

The confirmation of these teams follows the conclusion of all continental qualifying events, the last being the African Youth Games, which concluded on 28 July.

The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be the first instance for both the Junior Men’s and Women’s hockey teams where they will be taking part in the quadrennial competition after not having participated in the first two editions in 2010 and 2014. The hockey tournament at the 2018 Games will follow the Hockey 5s format where a total of 12 teams will vie for the title.

Earlier in the Qualifiers which took place in Bangkok, Thailand, the Junior Men’s team had attained qualification by remaining undefeated throughout their campaign. The team played a total of four Pool matches which saw them win 25-0 against Thailand, 6-2 against Japan, 21-0 against Hong Kong and 12-5 against South Korea, qualify for the Semi-finals where they overcame Bangladesh 9-2. The Final match was played against a strong Malaysian team where India came out on top in the Shootout (2-1) after the scores had remained 4-4 after regulation time.

The Junior Women’s also had a successful outing in Thailand as they finished second behind China. The young team won all three of their Pool matches, beating Singapore 14-0, South Korea 10-0 and hosts Thailand 9-0 to progress to the Semi-final where they defeated Malaysia 4-2. However, in the Final match, the Indian team could not overcome China’s challenge as they lost 1-4.

Md. Mushtaque Ahmad, Secretary General, Hockey India congratulated the teams for attaining qualification. He said, “Both the Junior Men’s and Women’s teams have worked really hard to qualify for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. I would like to congratulate the teams for showing great determination and securing their place in the quadrennial event for the first time. The Hockey 5s format is very fast-paced and I feel that both our teams are very well equipped to be able to perform exceptionally at the Games in Argentina come October.”