New Delhi: With an aim to make hockey faster and more viewer-friendly, Hockey Australia and infrastructure major LANCO Infratech Ltd on Tuesday launched a new revolutionary nine-a-side tournament to be held in Perth from October 20 to 23.
The event named ‘LANCO International Super Series’ will feature hosts Australia, India, Pakistan and New Zealand in the men’s category, while India, Australia and Malaysia will fight it out in the women’s section for top honours.
The nine-a-side format, a brainchild of former India technical director and present Australia coach Ric Charlesworth, has been sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation and will be played under new rules, ensuring fast-paced hockey.
This is the first time such a tournament is being played internationally and the organisers have coincided the event with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Perth.
The new rules for the event include teams having nine players a side as against the usual 11, 15 minutes per half as compared to 35 minutes halves, bigger goals (1 metre wider), unlimited substitutions, one player from each team will be required to stay in the opposition half to create more space, one-on-one penalty shoot out where the striker is allowed only eight seconds to score.
The ground rules has also been relaxed to encourage continuous play. The format allows only two defenders besides the goalkeeper to stop penalty corners. To add to it, there must not be more than four players from the attacking team for taking the penalty corners.
The players also need to stand outside the 23 meter line before they receive the out push from the back line and the penalty corner must be executed within 25 seconds.
However, in case of long corners it is five players versus five. Again the attackers have to be outside the 23 meter area.
Explaining the new format, Charlesworth said it has been conceptualised to ensure free-flowing fast hockey, where the spectators get to see more goals.
“We decided to organise the nine-a-side tournament because we wanted to change the paradigm a little bit. This format will ensure fast and furious hockey,” Charlesworth said via a video message.
“It’s about entertaining public, it’s about fun. It’s about getting as many goals as possible,” he added.
“These rules are made for India and Pakistan in my view. Most of us in Australia, love the way India and Pakistan traditionally play the game. We learnt most of our hockey from what we saw in the sub-continent,” Charlesworth said in a video message during the launch of the nine-a-side tournament here today.
“The Indian players have fluency, speed, terrific skills and play an attacking style of hockey.”
The tournament will feature hosts Australia, India, Pakistan and New Zealand. (PTI)