Thirty-two foreign players from different countries will be seen in action in the two-month seven-team Premier Hockey League, to be played in Chennai (in January) and Chandigarh (February-March).
However, the names of the players and countries are yet to be finalised. It may be recalled that in the last PHL held in Chandigarh, eight players from Pakistan were among the foreigners who donned the colours of different teams.
The first phase will begin on January 4 in Chennai. The Chandigarh leg is from February 11.
This time at least four foreign players will be in one team.
Holders Bangalore Lions, runners-up Chandigarh Dynamos, Hyderabad Sultans, Chennai Veerans, Orissa Steelers, Maratha Warriors and Sher-e-Jalandhar will vie for top honours.
Matches at both venues would be played under flood lights.
Two teams from Punjab -- Sher-E-Jalandhar, led by Kanwalpreet Singh, and runners-up Chandigarh Dynamos, to be captained by Rajpal Singh, are being jointly sponsored by Western Union, a leading provider of global money transfer services and ESPN Star Sports.
Suvodep Das, Head Marketing, South Asia, Western Union, told reporters that ''Western Union through this association with the PHL aims to encourage and revive our national game across the country".
Sher-e-Jalandhar captain Kanwalpreet Singh said, ''It is our honour to be bestowed this support from Western Union and ESPN Star Sports. We look forward to making the best use of this opportunity and performing exceedingly well in the PHL.''
Chandigarh Dynamos captain Rajpal Singh said, ''With leading brands like Western Union and ESPN associating with the game, our national sport is set for a bigger leap.''
Also present on the occasion were former India captain Baljit Singh Dhillon, drag flicker Jugraj Singh and mercurial forward Gagan Ajit Singh.