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New Indian Express: New year, new rules for hockey across all levels (12/20/2018)
New Indian Express: New year, new rules for hockey across all levels

By Swaroop Swaminathan

This means competitive matches including at the national level will see a change from January 1, 2019.

CHENNAI : It's official. All hockey matches, including ones played at the domestic level, should be played under existing international rules (four quarters of 15 minutes each). The International Hockey Federation (FIH) sent a release to this effect on Wednesday.

“In international matches, teams have been playing four quarters for some years and it is felt that uniformity in match formats can be achieved when all match formats are based on a four-quarter principle.”

This means competitive matches including at the national level will see a change from January 1, 2019. A few tournaments were still being played according to archaic regulations — two halves each of 35 minutes.

The new rule change bringing in consistency will happen from the next calendar year. To ensure this rule change is implemented without fail, Hockey India has already sent a mail to all its member units.

A former national team coach welcomed the move.

“This will obviously ensure players from a very early age get used to playing in the internationally-recognised format. It may be tough for a player to suddenly transition to the senior level after playing for 35 minutes in junior events.”

This wasn’t the only development as the FIH also decided to do away with kicking backs. This move has been made to ensure the safety of the players. “Teams now have two options,” the release said. “They either play with a goalkeeper who wears full protective equipment or they play with only field players... it is hoped that this experimental rule will enhance safety as field players will no longer have goalkeeping privileges so will not be entitled to use their body to stop shots at goal.”

India to play Azlan Shah

World No 5 India will figure in the 2019 edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. The World Cup quarterfinalists will be joined by Ireland, Japan, South Korea and Canada apart from hosts Malaysia.

A key point to note here is that none of the teams playing in the Pro League will be part of the longest running invitational tournament in world hockey.

In past seasons, Hockey India has tended to use the event as an exercise in experimentation but they will have to make a significant departure from the norm.

Considering the Hockey Series Finals — a pre-Olympic qualifier — takes place in Bhubaneswar from June 6, there will be little room for blooding young players. The eight-day competition will begin at Ipoh from March 23.

Meanwhile, this newspaper has learnt that the first camp of the new year will not begin before February. After the probables, including ones involved at the World Cup, take part in a string of domestic meets, they will have a short vacation from the third week of January before reassembling at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru sometime in the third week of February.

Teams: India, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Malaysia.

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