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Eves’ hockey on Rhino turf

Soon after Ranchi Rhinos’ triumph in Hockey India League (HIL) in February, Morabadi’s astroturf stadium is set to see a high-octane tourney.

Hockey India, the apex governing body for field hockey, has chosen Ranchi as the venue for the 3rd Junior Women’s Hockey Nationals.

“It’s a matter of pride for the state,” Hockey Jharkhand president Sudesh Mahto, Ajsu boss and former deputy chief minister, told the media on Sunday. “We have got the chance to host the tourney between April 19 and May 1, which will see 29 teams from across India vying for top honours.”

Sudesh, who also held the sports portfolio in the last Arjun Munda government, promised hockey fans that “the city will once again put up a great show”.

Around 600 people, including players, technical heads and game observers, are expected to turn up for the tourney, whose final will be played on May 1.

Sudesh added specific responsibilities had been assigned to Hockey Jharkhand office bearers. “Committees and sub-committees have been formed to cover every aspect,” Sudesh told The Telegraph.

Suresh Singh, Hockey Jharkhand treasurer, said teams would arrive from April 17.

“This tournament assumes significance as the players’ performance in these fixtures will affect their chances of representing India in the world junior hockey ties,” Singh said, adding a number of selectors would be keeping an eagle eye on players.

Hockey fever had gripped the state when home team Ranchi Rhinos beat season’s favourites Delhi Waveriders in a thrilling summit clash 2-1 to clinch the first HIL title on home turf.

HIL matches at Morabadi triggered an unprecedented response for the game among the masses, with serpentine queues before ticket counters.

The upcoming tourney is expected to push the game’s popularity further north.

Hockey Jharkhand is also going full throttle to promote the national sport. “Both our Under-19 boys and girls won national ties,” Sudesh added.