The first edition of the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League (Under 21), to be organised by the Sports Authority of India in association with Hockey India, will be held at three different venues across the country in three phases between March-November this year.
While Phase 1 will be held from March 23 to 29 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi, Phase 2 will be held from July 13 to 19 at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru, and Phase 3 from November 22 to 29 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
A total of 14 teams will take part in the first season of the league, with the participation of teams being accepted on a first come, first serve basis, subject to confirmation of acceptance of the relevant terms of participation.
These 14 teams will be divided into two pools of seven teams each for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the league, which shall follow a round-robin format, with each team playing a total of six matches each in both the phases.
Phase 3 will consist of classification matches based on the rankings of teams after the conclusion of the first two phases. A final match will also be held to determine the champions.
Speaking about the first-of-its-kind initiative, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said: “In women’s hockey, the number of national-level competitions currently being held in India is limited and therefore we felt the need to create this league so that more talent could be identified in the U-21 category. I am sure this league will bring forth many talented hockey players.”
Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, President, Hockey India said, “With a minimum of 15 matches being played by each team in a season, the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League (Under 21) organised by Hockey India will give a chance to upcoming players from various Hockey India-registered academies and PSUs in showcasing their talent, and potentially becoming a part of the national team set-up in the future.”