|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Indian hockey gets new lease of life
December 02, 2004 15:20 IST
Indian hockey is all set to get a new lease of life with the Premier Hockey League starting from January 13 in Hyderabad next year.
"We have been working towards the Premier Hockey League for over two years. Innovative ideas will help hockey regain the interest it held at one time," said KPS Gill, President, Indian Hockey Federation at the PHL launch show here last night.
"We've passed through a lean phase. We've had our heart-breaking moments. Now, we hope to be the superpower in hockey as we once were," Gill added.
The PHL, with a total prize money of Rs. 71 lakh, aims to provide much-needed exposure to talented hockey players in India. Organised by the IHF, ESPN-Star Sports and Leisure Sports Management, the tournament has also been launched to increase the popularity of hockey in India.
"The Premier Hockey League is making hockey contemporary. Certainly, a strong domestic league makes for a strong national side," said cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle.
"PHL is a city-based league with regional affiliations. It's our commitment to provide a world-class event which will enable Indians to be world champions again in the next 2-3 years," said R C Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN India.
The Premier Hockey League consists of two tiers in 2005- five each in the Premier Division and the First Division. Played in the round-robin format, the event will feature all teams playing each other twice, with the winner decided on the basis of total points.
"Next year, depending on the response, probably there will be ten teams," says Gill. "Even in the FIH meeting, the idea of the League was looked upon with a lot of interest.
"By presenting the game in a new international format, increased popularity will then attract foreign players and encourage youngsters to take to this game. Players and the game also get much-needed exposure," Venkateish added.
To increase viewer interest in the game, interesting innovations like having four quarters instead of two halves in the game have been made. New concepts of timeouts have also been introduced to liven up the game.
PHL is also expected to feature players from foreign countries like Pakistan and South Korea, and on the domestic front, all leading Indian players will reserve themselves to play in the League matches.
The Premier Hockey League has evoked a good response from the coach and players of the India hockey team.
"Any league is a good thing. It's good that now India has one too," Indian team coach Gerhard Rach said.
"Glamour is certainly good for the game.
"PHL is excellent for the game. It will work wonders for domestic hockey and enhance the depth of the national team," Indian team midfielder Viren Rasquinha said.
But will it bring hockey to the same level as cricket in India?
"Well, it's better to take it one step at a time. PHL is only the first step in the case of hockey. Let it get established," said Rasquinha.
"Perhaps, it's too early to expect miracles," said Arjun Halappa.