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Sahara to sponsor Indian hockey

July 09, 2003 18:22 IST

The Indian Hockey Federation has finally found a patron in Sahara India Parivar.

The company will sponsor Indian hockey for the next eight years.

At a function at Lucknow's Sahara Shahar, Sahara Parivar chief Subroto Roy and IHF president KPS Gill announced that the country's senior and junior hockey teams will be come under the company's umbrella till 2011.

Sahara corporate communications chief Abhijit Sarkar told that more than being a commercial association, the sponsorship would be an emotional relationship to raise the levelĀ of the game in India.

"We will work for the uplift of hockey instead of just making sure that the Sahara logo is made visible," said Sarkar.

"Sahara Parivar has adopted the entire future of hockey in the country. At a time when the country is doing well it is important that we support the national game of the country, " he added.

Financial details of the deal were available.

The Indian team has been without a sponsor since May, when Castrol pulled out, citing cost-cutting measures. Castrol were associated with the team since July 2001.

At the Hockey Australia Men's Challenge, in Perth and Sydney, and the four-nation tournament in Hamburg, which India won, the team was without a sponsor.

"It is important that we raise the status of a hockey player in India. To popularise the sport we have adopted a slogan: `We love India, We love hockey'. We want to make the revival of hockey a movement," said Sarkar.

Sahara also announced plans to set up a 'Sahara India Sports Academy' in Amby Valley, which will have facilities for all sports.

"From volleyball to football we will have all the facilities here. We will also set up a sports medicine center and a stadium," Sarkar informed.

He also said the Indian hockey team after its training stint in Mussourie will stay at Sahara Shahar in Lucknow from July 18 to August 9 and practise on the astro-turf available there.

"It is hardly any cost for us. It is sad no one has come forward. But we will accommodate the 30 players and coaches here."

Faisal Shariff