New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) The Hockey India 7th Junior National Hockey Championship (Men) ‘B’ Division starts from April 14 at Bhopal’s Aishbagh stadium, it was announced on Wednesday.

With 25 teams, competing across eight pools, the competition which will continue till April 22 is set to be intense. The finalists of the tournament are guaranteed an automatic promotion to the ‘A’ Division tournament. The defending champions of the ‘B’ division the Mumbai Hockey Association beat Hockey Maharashtra in last year’s final.

This year’s championship occupy greater significance, thanks to the recent upsurge of Indian hockey over the past year. India’s success at the Junior Men World Cup, coupled with consistent performances by the senior men and the women’s team have raised the profile of the sport in the country.

The talent in Bhopal will serve as a scouting ground for coaches and selectors to pick and choose players who will go on to form the core base of India’s junior age-group hockey teams for the future.

“The junior Nationals for men are one of the highlights of our calendar year. The tournament shows us the strength and the depth of the grassroots system and forms a basis for future selection to the national teams. The hosts Bhopal have history for producing great hockey players, teams and academies, and I have no doubt the tournament will be a rousing success,” HI Secretary General Md. Mushtaque Ahmed said.

Hockey Mizoram take on Kerala Hockey in the opening game of the tournament.

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