By James Crook

IMG 01 SINvsBANw200April 4 -  Hockey5, the sport's version of 3x3 basketball and Twenty20 cricket, has made its debut at the boy's under-16 Asia Cup competition, a qualification tournament for next year's Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

The new format introduced by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) features two teams consisting of five players per side - as opposed to the standard eight - and comprises of three 12 minute periods on a playing surface which is around half the size of a regulation hockey pitch.

Ten Asian teams will compete for the two spots available for the continent at next year's Youth Olympic Games, which are set to take place in China next August.

Chairman of the FIH Competitions Committee, Ken Read, explained the main differences between standard hockey and the new format in an interview with the official FIH website. 

"As regards the rules, these are simplified as compared to outdoor hockey," he explained.

"There are no circles, teams may shoot from anywhere, there are no penalty corners and challenges replace penalty strokes.

Asian Junior qaulifierSingapore take on Bangladesh on the opening day of the Asian qualifier for the Summer Youth Olympics, where Hockey5 made its debut

"A challenge is effectively a one-on-one between an attacker and a defending goalkeeper."

Read cited the success of similar initiatives in other sports as one of the main reasons the FIH decided to experiment with a shortened format.

"We had seen the success of the 3x3 basketball at the last Youth Olympic Games [in Singapore], as well as the impact that twenty20 and rugby sevens have had on cricket and rugby respectively," he said

"Hockey5 is a complementary version of the outdoor game, and we would hope to create the same excitement and interest with this new version of the sport."

After piloting this week at the boys' under-16 Asia Cup, which takes place in Singapore at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium from today until next Sunday (April 7), there will be scope for alterations to be made to the rules and regulations, according to tournament director Brian G. Fernandez.

"From here, what will happen is most probably they will look at the whole thing again, and maybe fine-tune it a bit for when Pan-American teams or the other continents have their qualifiers for the Youth Olympics," he said

"By the time we reach China next year, I think we will have the whole package."

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