New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka finished as champions in North, East, West, and South Zones respectively in Hockey India's 1st Junior Women Zonal Championships 2023 which concluded on Sunday.
Hockey Haryana defeated Hockey Punjab 4-1 in the final of the North Zone Championship 2023 in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh on Sunday. Anil Kumar, head coach of Hockey Haryana, credited his players' fitness, strength and skills for their victory.
"It was a great tournament for us as it gave our junior players much-needed exposure. In terms of fitness, strength, and skills, Hockey Haryana were excellent, and that's why they were crowned champions."
Anil Kumar also applauded Hockey India for conducting the zonal championships 2023 and providing top-class facilities to the participants.
"By organising such tournaments, Hockey India is giving youngsters a fantastic opportunity to not only showcase their skills but also test themselves. A competition like this helps players in discovering their strengths and weaknesses at an early age, which ultimately helps them improve their game," Anil Kumar said.
"Moreover, Hockey India provided the best possible facilities for the participating teams, and for that, all of us, from athletes to coaches, are really happy," he added.
Hosts Hockey Jharkhand won the East Zone Championship in Khunti (Ranchi) Jharkhand by defeating Hockey Mizoram 2-2, 2-1 in a penalty shootout.
Speaking about their title-winning campaign, Hockey Jharkhand head coach Himanshu Kumawat stated that his team benefited from playing on home turf.
"Many fans came to the stadium to watch Hockey Jharkhand play and it motivated the team to give its best. So, we got the advantage of playing in front of the home crowd and getting a plethora of support. It helped us win the title," Kumawat was quoted as saying in a release by Hockey India.
Kumawat also praised runners-up Hockey Mizoram and Hockey Association of Odisha, which finished third, for giving a tough competition to his team. "Both Hockey Mizoram and Hockey Association of Odisha were tough teams and gave us a good fight in the tournament."
"In my opinion, the tournament is an amazing platform for youngsters to gain exposure. Some players were unable to compete at the Nationals, but now they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and impress selectors at the Junior Zonal Championships, which will help them climb the success ladder," Kumawat added.
In West Zone, Hockey Madhya Pradesh were crowned champions of the zonal championship in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh after they defeated Hockey Maharashtra 6-1 in the Final.
Hockey Madhya Pradesh's head coach Neha Rawat said they learned many new things during the tournament and overall, it was a great experience for the team to be part of the competition.
"Our overall experience of the zonal championships was fantastic. We learned several new things during the tournament. There were many good competitors. We will take key learnings from the tournament and look to perform even better in our upcoming competitions," Rawat said.
Hockey Karnataka won the South Zone Championship at Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu by defeating the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu 3-1 in the final on Sunday.
"It felt great to win the zonal championships," Hockey Karnataka's head coach Dharmendra G.R. said. "The team really played well and gave their best. We practiced what we preached. The hard work of all the team members helped us lift the trophy," he added.
Revealing the secret behind Hockey Karnataka's title win, Dharmendra G.R. said, "The success mantra was to keep it simple and take one game at a time, and give our best."
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