The team won the 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021.
SAI Academy set the gold standard at the 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 as they defeated Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy 2–1 in the Final to claim the winner’s trophy in the inaugural edition of the tournament.
Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre bounced back strongly after their loss in the Semi-Final to claim 3rd Place in the competition, beating Khalsa Hockey Academy (Amritsar) 5–1 in an one-sided battle.
SAI Academy put on a dominant display in the tournament from day one, winning the Championship without facing a single defeat over the course of the competition. Speaking on his team’s performance in the tournament, Head Coach Prakhar Patel said, “Our performance over the course of the event was very positive. My team adapted to the playing conditions early on and coped quite well. I’m very happy with the defence line as a whole, as well as our penalty corner conversion rate. Moreover, we have managed to defend penalty corners efficiently as well.”
“We missed some chances in the final which we should have converted, but our defence line held up particularly well and won us the match. We faced a very tough Final opponent in Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy and I am glad that we overcame the last hurdle successfully.”
SAI Academy made it a clean sweep in Bhubaneswar as the U-17 Girls team won the 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 as well the previous day. Speaking about this achievement, Patel said, “This feat shows the good work our academy is doing in grassroots hockey in the country. We have various centres across the country where we train the best talent and select players from all over India. When you have players from various different regions, the focus is to work on the coordination and collective mindset of the team. We worked on this by training in a one month camp in Bhubaneswar before the tournament, and continued to improve as we progressed in the competition.”
He also expressed his gratitude towards Hockey India by saying, “Events like this are very helpful for the players as they offer international level competition and exposure in a national level event. Playing under the floodlights in an international stadium is very special for the junior players and it motivates them and helps them grow towards a higher level.”
Home side Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre clinched 3rd place by defeating Khalsa Hockey Academy (Amritsar) 5–1 in the 3rd/4th place playoff match. Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre Head Coach Abhishek Mishra said, “Our cohesiveness in the match was very good, which was an issue in our semi-final. I am glad we sorted that out. We also altered our tactics, our formation, and changed our players for this game to give us a different dimension against our opponent.”
Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre also reached the Final in the 1st Hockey India Sub Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 to cap off a good overall display in the inaugural edition of the two competitions.
“We are doing a lot of good work in our academy centers as our infrastructure is top notch and we involve expert head coaches, assistant coaches, sports scientists, physiotherapists, massagers, nutritionists, sports psychologists and the like. There is attention to detail in terms of match preparation, load monitoring and injury prevention for the players. This shows that there is good planning and a long term vision at Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre,” Mishra concluded.