NAIROBI, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Four countries have confirmed participation in the inaugural East Africa hockey youth tournament set for Nairobi from February 15-17.
The tournament, which will be played under the five-a-side rule, will have strong team representation from regional giants Uganda, Tanzania, Seychelles and hosts Kenya. Rwanda and Burundi are yet to confirm.
Wycliffe Ongori, Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) secretary general said here Friday that the tournament aims at expanding the sport in the east Africa region and developing the young players ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
"Africa had a firm footing on the global hockey circuit. But there have been concerns that the game's popularity is waning in the continent. Starting the development process at the youth level will lay a firm foundation to revive the sport," Ongori said.
He said the International Hockey Federation is worried by the slow growth of the sport in the continent. This has prompted the African Hockey Federation to split the region into three zones (East, West and South).
"There are growing concerns by International Hockey Federation (FIH) that the sport has stalled and African Hockey Confederation decided that for the sport to continue to grow they should organize mini events and that's why the East zone has decided to stage this youth event," said Ongori.