India will host the Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament for the first time from August 3 to 12 in Chennai, with international matches returning to the city after 16 years.
The seventh edition of the prestigious continental event, which was inaugurated in 2011, will serve as a precursor to the Asian Games hockey competition in Hangzhou, China, in September.
Asian hockey powerhouse and three-time champion Pakistan as well as China are yet to confirm their participation in the tournament to be played at Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium.
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A step to revive hockey
Tamil Nadu Sports Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin said hosting of the tournament in the southern metropolis will help in the revival of the sport in the region.
“It is indeed a great pleasure and honour to host the Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2023 in Chennai which was once the capital of hockey in South India with many reputed domestic and international events being held here,” the minister said here on Monday.
“I believe hosting the Hero Asian Champions Trophy here will further revive the sport in the region and watching top teams in Asia will also inspire the younger generation to take up hockey as a career.”
Chennai last hosted an international hockey event in 2007 when the Asia Cup was held at Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium where India clinched the title after beating Korea 7-2 in the final.
Pak yet to confirm
Organisers said Pakistan and China would confirm their participation by April 25. They said “adequate security would be provided if Pakistan team participates in the event.”
Other teams in the tournament, being held under the aegis of Asian Hockey Federation, will be defending champions South Korea, Malaysia and Japan.
India have also won the tournament three times (2011, 2016 and joint winner with Pakistan in 2018) while South Korea clinched the last edition title in 2021 in Dhaka.
Hockey India Secretary General Bhola Nath Singh said the national federation officials have already visited the venue in Chennai and have taken note of the ongoing preparations for the tournament.
Odisha to Chennai
“In recent years, Odisha has been the centre of major international hockey tournaments but we are also keen on taking international matches to other states in the country,” he said.
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“Tamil Nadu in the past decade has hosted many important Hockey India National Championships across various age-groups. I am sure with the support of all the stake holders, we will have a successful and memorable event.”
He said Hockey India officials have already visited the tournament venue and have taken note of the preparations.
(With Agency inputs)