8 time Olympic champions! Once the kings of Hockey, have been downgraded to a team which can be beaten by minnows of World Hockey. That’s Indian Hockey for you. Even the slightest of cricket fan in India might have seen Hockey when played against arch rivals Pakistan. Otherwise a sport wildly over shadowed by money machines cricket.
Come this New Year, Hockey India recognized by FIH (Federation of International Hockey) started a league following the paths of IPL (Indian Premier League) in cricket. That is “Hockey India League”.
The format comprises of five franchisee based teams and shall be played in home and away format.
The inaugural tournament shall be played from 14 January to 10 February, 2013. The team consists of players from all over the world.
|Delhi Wave Riders||Delhi||Wave Group|
|Mumbai Magicians||Mumbai||Dabur India Ltd|
|Punjab Warriors||Jalandhar||Jaypee Group|
|Ranchi Rhinos||Ranchi||Patel – Uniexel Group|
|Uttar Pradesh Wizards||Lucknow||Sahara India Pariwar|
The HIL (Hockey India League) franchisees is owned by big corporates and the title sponsor is Hero Group. The players were acquired through an auction by the franchisees and each team consists of 14 Indian players and 10 foreign players. HIL also got a boost in the form of FIA announcing a 30 day window from next season onwards so that the league gets the support of all world-class players. ESPN Star will broadcast all the matches of HIL.
So is HIL, here to survive?
They have got the cash which should attract the players to showcase their abilities. Unlike Australia, Germany and other top class countries of World Hockey, Indian Hockey lacks the domestic league qualities which could be improved through such a league. Unlike IPL which attract capacity crowd to the stadiums, hockey in India could find it difficult to get viewers. So we need to wait and watch till the season one is over to get an overall view of financial performance whether its gate pass, or through sponsorship’s.
The spat between IHF (Indian Hockey Federation) and HI (Hockey India), who claims to be the official flag bearer of Indian Hockey needs to be sorted out. The politics have already destroyed our national sport.
Already Shiv Sena and other parties have held protests outside the stadiums over the inclusion of Pakistani players. One thing we need to understand is that we should not mix politics and sports. Nobody has protested over Pakistani Cricket players playing in India because everyone knows Cricket is the cash cow unlike hockey which hardly makes money.
The year 2012 has been good for Indian Hockey considering that we were able to play London Olympics ( although not to remember that we came last in the entire campaign) , but was placed fourth in Champions trophy and fought till the last breath in Asians Champions Trophy after losing out to arch rivals Pakistan in the last moment. So under Michael Nobbs Indian Hockey has seen some improvements which shall be sustained and the process should continue.
If we need to see emergence of Hockey once again in India we need to support such initiatives and the administration must be cleaned up from corrupt politicians who will head these bodies until their deaths.
So in the span of 28 days will the fate of Indian Hockey will be decided. Well let’s wait and see how Hockey India League will sustain the competition or will it be sidelined in the same way as PHL.
If sustained we could see some cheers from Hockey, the national sports and it could bring some smile to few Hockey lovers like me!!