Top Indian players for World Series Hockey
Around 176 players from India and across the world will participate in the World Series Hockey tournament, from December 15 to January 22, 2012.
A joint venture between the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sport, the World Hockey series will feature 61 matches.
The captains of eight city-based franchisee teams were announced at a media conference and the list includes top Indian internationals -- Sardara Singh, Adrian D'Souza, Arjun Halappa and Prabhjot Singh -- all of whom were present at the launch in Mumbai, along with drag-flicker Sandeep Singh.
The four other teams will be captained by Australia's Brent Livermore, Pakistan's Rehan Butt, former Spain captain Rodrigo Garza and Argentina's Lucas Vila.
Six venues for the five-week long tournament have been identified and thy include Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab (Amritsar, Jalandhar and Chandigarh) Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Two more cities will be chosen subsequently.
Image: Adrian D'Souza, Arjun Halappa, Brent Livermore, Sardara Singh, Rodrigo Garza and Prabhjot Singh at the World Series Hockey press conference
'FIH will not interfere with players who had signed up'
Nimbus Communications' Executive Chairman Harish Thawani, in the presence of IHF's president R K Shetty and Chief Advisor K P S Gill, said the decks for participation of several top players have been cleared, following his meeting in Europe with International Hockey Federation's (FIH) chief Leander Negre.
"All those players we have signed before March 31, 2011, have been allowed to take part by the FIH after my meeting with Mr Negre in London and Lausanne. As we had already signed all these players we wanted for the league before that date, it served our practical purposes. But we still are not willing to accept any cut off date," said Thawani.
According to Thawani, the fear of a legal battle in European courts could have swayed the thinking of FIH, which recognises rival body, Hockey India and not the IHF, over its stand on allowing the players to take part in the US $3million prize-money League.
"FIH will not interfere with players who had signed up with us before March 31, 2011. This, I presume, is based on legal advice," said Thawani, who added that among the 176 players there are 40 overseas players from top hockey-playing nations -- Australia, Spain, England, Germany, Netherlands and Pakistan.
Image: Yannick Colaco (COO Nimbus Sport), Harish Thawani (Executive Chairman, Nimbus Communications Ltd.), KPS Gill (Ex-President, IHF) and RK Shetty (President, IHF)
A total of 61 matches to be played
Among the Indian stars, apart from Sardara, Halappa, Prabhjot, Adrian and Sandeep, former captain Rajpal Singh, Diwakar Ram, Bharat Chetri, Dhanjay Mahadik, Shivendra Singh, Roshan Minz, William Xalco and Prabodh Tirkey will participate in the tournament.
A total of 61 matches, including two semi-finals and best-of-three finals, will be played, and all eight franchisee outfits will play 14 home-and-away ties each, making it a total of 56 round-robin matches.
The round-robin phase will be till January 11, 2012, followed by two semi-finals, on January 14 and 15, and the three-match finals on January 18, 20 and 22.
Livermore, who was flown in for the launch of the captains, said the tournament will help in lifting Indian hockey from where it stands now.
Former Spain captain Garza -- who has represented his country in the last three Olympics -- was also happy to be part of World Series Hockey and said "hockey has a lot of potential here".
Goalkeeper Adrian said though India had in place the Premier Hockey League earlier, the newly-launched venture is different.
"It was seen when the league was there earlier how Indian youngsters could gain and make an entry into the national team. This league is different. They can play with foreign players and gain in experience," he said.
Image: Sardara Singh, Arjun Halappa, Adrian D'souza, ex-Olympian Dhanraj Pillay, Brent Livermore, Prabhjot Singh and Rodrigo Garza