Several India stars, including Gurjit Kaur, Deep Grace Ekka and Vandana Katariya, are set to participate in the senior women’s National Hockey Championship, which will begin on Friday at Hisar’s Astroturf International Hockey Stadium in Haryana Agricultural University.

Apart from the aforementioned names, Rajni Etimarpu, Sushila Chanu, Lilima Minz, Nikki Pradhan, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Reena Khokar, Lalremsiami and Anupa Barla from the Indian squad are to feature in the tournament.

All these stars from the Indian side will turn up for the defending champions, Railway Sports Promotion Board, who will begin their campaign against Hockey Rajasthan in the Pool A opening match.

Pool A also features Hockey Karnataka, Hockey Odisha and Hockey Coorg while Pool B will see last year’s runners-up Hockey Madhya Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Hockey Gangpur-Odisha, Chhattisgarh Hockey and Hockey Bhopal.

Pool C includes Hockey Haryana, Hockey Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh Hockey, Hockey Himachal, Central Reserve Police Force and Pool D will have Hockey Jharkhand, Hockey Punjab, Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, Association of Indian Universities and Kerala Hockey.

Teams that finish top two in each of these Pools in the round robin stage will qualify for the quarter-finals to be played on 15 February. The semi-final and final will be played on 17 and 18 February, respectively.

“After their successful outing in Spain recently, it is good for the players to continue their competitive form at the National Championship,” said David John, the high performance director of Hockey India.

“While the core group of women in the national team have remained constant over the past two years, national selectors would be watching out for fresh talent during the tournament as we prepare for the important next 18 months leading into the Olympic Games 2020.”