Junior National Indoor Hockey Championships Underway

This weekend sees a total of four Midlands venues hosting the National Indoor Hockey Championships 2009 for Boys and Girls.

The junior finals matches will take place at the National Indoor Arena (NIA), Birmingham on Sunday in combination with the senior finals, a venture introduced in 2006 which proved to be a big success.  For the young players who get given the opportunity to play in a purpose built arena like the NIA, with all the glitz and glamour that goes with it, it is a special and unique event that they are sure to remember for years to come.

Before the finals though, thereís a lot of action packed hockey to get through, starting today!

At Perdiswell Leaisure Centre in Worceser, the Girls U16 tournament will see a new champion with only Trojans HC and Wakefield GHS having qualified to the national stages last season.  This makes it a very open contest with many of the teams being able to boast both players from the EH Futures Cup and other junior competition successes over the past season.

Action from the 2008 Girls National Indoor Hockey Championships Final between Kingston Grammar and Taunton School at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, January 2008The Girls U18 tournament at Cocks Moor Woods Leisure Centre, Birmingham, is looking to be a showdown between the U16 finalists from 2006, with Kingston Grammar returning to defend last seasonís U18 title and Repton School returning after failing to qualify for the nationals last season.  Belper will be sure to mix up the competition though with a squad including eight junior home nations internationals.  GB's Beijing girl Charlotte Craddock has also been named in Repton's squad.

Both boys competitions are taking place at Aldersley Leisure Village, Wolverhampton.

Action from the 2008 Boys U16 National Indoor Hockey Championships Final between Whitgift School and The Perse School at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, January 2008The reigning Boys U16 champions also return to defend their title, although they will be challenged in the close competition of Whitgift School who lost out narrowly 5-3 in the final last year.  The Perse School has won the competition for the last two seasons and will be eager to make this year their hat-trick season.

The Boys U18 competition looks to be a slightly more open contest with Ipswich School the only team to have previously held the trophy at the NIA, in 2007.  They are joined in the competition by Millfield School who will undoubtedly be strong contenders for the title.

A special mention must go to Millfield School who have impressively qualified as winners of each competition from the West Regional rounds.  They will be showcasing four teams, which include a total of seven home nationsí junior internationals.

Tickets for Sunday's finals will be available from the box office at the NIA on Sunday morning.  Sky Sports 2 will again be screening a three hour programme on Sunday afternoon and evening. This will include goalmouth action from all the junior finals followed by live coverage of the menís and womenís finals.  Coverage starts at 16:30 on Sunday.

This will be the last season that the schools and clubs will compete for the same indoor title with the Single System being implemented next season.  This will increase the opportunities for juniors to experience indoor hockey and will reduce the conflict between representing either a school or a club.  England Hockey is very excited about the continuing development of the indoor game in this country and hope that you will share in our enthusiasm to improve the profile of our sport.

England Hockey is grateful to the sponsorship provided by Man Group plc which allows free entry to all our national qualifiers and reduces the entry fees to the teams.  Man Groupís sponsorship of our junior competitions programme is invaluable to the development of our talented young players and we are indebted to the memory of Tony Marcus for securing this funding.