Women handball aspirants during the selection at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Friday. (Bhola Prasad)
Jharkhand has set the ball rolling for retaining the top slot in the east zone handball championship.
On Friday, Jharkhand State Handball Association kicked off a two-day selection trials at JRD Tata Sports Complex ahead of the 18th Senior East Zone Handball Championship in Patna from September 23 to 25.
Forty seven aspirants (25 men and 22 women) are trying their best to impress the selectors, who kept a close eye on fitness, movement, passing and shooting skills of the players, on the first day.
The exercise continued for over two hours in the presence of state association functionaries as well as coaches Firoz Khan and A. Prakash Rao. Players mainly from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand police and Bokaro are vying for berths in the state team.
Jharkhand has been a consistent winner in eastern zonal championship, barring the last edition in Guwahati, Assam, which it gave a miss.
“Yes, we are looking forward to keeping our reputation as formidable champions intact. We’ll pick a strong men and women squad for the zonal championship,” said association secretary Khurshid Khan.
He added, “We did not send our team to Assam because of disturbance in that state. But we are confident of continuing our good show in Patna and return with the title.”
Coach Firoz Khan said a 20-day camp would follow the selection trials next week. “The preparatory camp is aimed at helping the shortlisted handballers to iron out their flaws. Myself and Rao will keep a watch during the camp,” he added.
According to him, 16 men and an equal number of women will be shortlisted.
“The selected players will be part of the camp at JRD Tata Sports Complex. We’ll send a 24-member (12 men and women each) outfit to Patna,” he added.
The remaining eight — four women and men each — will be on standby.