India will look to win their first title in the upcoming tournament.

The Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2021 will take place in Potchefstroom, South Africa between 5-16 December. In what will be the ninth edition of the competition, some of the world’s best squads will assemble to compete for the prestigious crown.

Indian junior women’s hockey team is also participating in the competition after attaining qualification. India have never won the tournament and are yet to appear for a Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup final. They will want to change that history this year and work hard to oust the daunting oppositions in December.

About the tournament

The first edition of the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup took place in 1989. This was 20 years after the Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup debuted. As women’s hockey gained popularity over the years, FIH put more resources into organizing junior-level tournaments.

The Junior Hockey World Cup usually takes place in every four years. However, the upcoming tournament will be happening five years after the 2016 edition, with the delay forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup was held with 12 teams. This trend continued until the 2001 edition when the FIH decided to experiment with 15 teams. That was quickly discarded and from the 2005 edition, 16 teams have participated in each edition.

The Netherlands have enjoyed a lot of success in this competition. They have won the Junior Hockey World Cup three times in the eight editions so far, the most by any team. Argentina and South Korea have won it twice while Germany have won the competition once.

The groups

Pool A: Ireland, South Korea, Netherlands, Zimbabwe

Pool B: Belgium, England, Canada, Uruguay

Pool C: Argentina, India, Russia, Japan

Pool D: Germany, South Africa, Spain, USA

The structure

The tournament will be played among 16 teams in South Africa. The women’s edition follows the same structure as the men’s. In this year’s competition, four groups of four respective teams have been created. One team in a group will face each other only once. The top two teams from a group will then directly qualify for the quarter-finals.

The Netherlands is the most successful team in the competition (Courtesy-FIH)

For the teams unable to qualify for the quarter-finals, they will advance to the classification rounds for their tournament placements. The third-placed team from a group will face the fourth-placed team from their next group and vice versa. The four winners from as many games will face each other in the classification semi-finals. The winners of those two matches cross-over meet in the ninth-placed game – where the winner gets the ninth spot and the loser receives the 10th spot. The losers of the classification semi-finals face each other to determine the 11th and 12th placed teams.

Meanwhile, the losers of the four classification games will also face each other to determine the 13th-16th place teams in two games. The winners move onto a final to determine the 13th and 14th place teams, while the losers face each other to determine the 15th and 16th place teams. From then onwards, the medal round quarter-finals will take place. The winners of the games move onto the semi-finals, while the losers will play two games to determine the fifth to eighth-placed teams.

The winners of the semi-finals move onto the final and the losers advances to the third/fourth-placed game. The winner of the finale will take home the title.

About Team India

The Indian junior women’s hockey team will be boosted by the inclusion of three Olympians in the squad. 21-year-old forward Lalremsiami will captain the side in the upcoming Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup. Fans will have high expectations from her.

Lalremsiami made eight appearances for the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that managed a credible fourth-place finish in the Tokyo Olympics. She also won the FIH Rising Star award in 2020 and is regarded as one of the brightest young forwards in women’s Hockey.

Lalremsiami will lead the Indian team in the World Cup (Courtesy: Hockey India)

Along with Lalremsiami, forward Sharmila Devi has also been included in the squad. Similarly, she also featured in eight games in the Tokyo Olympics, registering a goal. Midfielder Salima Tete, who also featured for the Indian team in the Tokyo Olympics, has also been included in the squad coached by Janneke Schopman.

Ishika Chaudhary, a hard-working midfielder in the team, has been given the vice-captaincy in the squad. She will assist Lalremsiami with her role in motivating the teammates to come up with big results.

India face daunting tasks in the group games. They will face one of the favourites of the tournament in Argentina, who have always excelled in this competition. The games against Japan and Russia will also pose tough challenges. Schopman’s team has to maintain very high performance levels to go deep into the tournament and make the nation proud.

India squad

Bichu Devi Kharibam (GK), Khushboo (GK), Akshata Abaso Dhekale, Ishika Chaudhary (v-c), Priyanka, Marina Lalramnghaki, Ajmina Kujur, Baljeet Kaur, Reet, Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke, Salima Tete, Sharmila Devi, Lalremsiami (captain), Beauty Dungdung, Deepika, Mumtaz Khan, Sangita Kumari, Jiwan Kishori Toppo.

Fixtures

Pool A

Ireland vs Zimbabwe – 5 December

South Korea vs Netherlands – 5 December

Netherlands vs Ireland – 6 December

South Korea vs Zimbabwe – 6 December

Netherlands vs Zimbabwe – 8 December

Ireland vs South Korea – 8 December

Pool B

Canada vs Uruguay – 5 December

Belgium vs Engalnd – 5 December

England vs Canada  6 December

Belgium vs Uruguay – 6 December

England vs Uruguay – 8 December

Canada vs Belgium – 8 December

Pool C

Argentina vs Japan – 6 December

India vs Russia – 6 December

Japan vs Russia – 7 December

India vs Argentina – 7 December

Argentina vs Russia – 9 December

Japan vs India – 9 December

Pool D

Germany vs USA – 5 December

South Africa vs Spain – 5 December

Spain vs Germany – 7 December

USA vs South Africa – 7 December

USA vs Spain – 9 December

Germany vs South Africa – 9 December

Telecast

The 2021 Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup will be available to stream on the Watch Hockey website and mobile app.

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