Pic: George Koshy
THE National Under-16 Boys' and Girls' tournament will be played on a 9s format this year, and teams are allowed to register 18 players but only 16 can play in a match.
The tournament will be held at the Kuala Lumpur HA grounds on March 12-20.
Earlier, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee had only allowed 15 players to be registered for the 9s tournament, however, they changed it to 18 yesterday after taking into account that 84 players from 14 states each for the boys and girls teams, will not get a chance to play in the age-group tournament.
"We had sent out entries stating that only 15 can be registered per-team but after discussing with the stake-holders, we have changed the rules to accommodate more players.
"The intention of the tournament is to expose as many players as possible, and not to deny anybody a chance to represent their state," clarified coaching committee chairman George Koshy.
The 9s format will be used for the first time in an under-16 tournament to give more playing time, as well as more goals to make it exciting.
"The 9s format will see more substitution and this will allow as many players as possible to play in a match. Also, it will be more exciting if more goals are scored in a match," said Koshy.
Earlier there was some confusion on selection when only 15 players could be registered as many states started dropping the second goalkeeper.
However, as news reached the states that 18 players can be registered, two goalkeepers were promptly selected per team, saving 28 goalkeepers from both the Boys' and Girls' events the fate of not playing in the Under-16 this season.