Why India’s national sport- Hockey won’t have a league of its own in 2018?

Disha Pawar

A now defunct Hockey League of India, called the Hockey India League (HIL), which ran a little over four years before going kaput, is now getting revamped to come back stronger in 2019.

2016 Rio Olympics was the first time in 36 years that the Indian Hockey Team (Men) made it to the quarter-finals before losing out to Belgium to eventually bow out of contention. Such is the plight of a not once but a record eight times Olympic Gold medallist team who today is struggling to clutch back to its glorious past. However, owing to a busy year-round calendar that encourages participation of up and coming players at international tournaments, India is slowly fighting back to regain its dwindling prowess in field hockey.

Finding a fresh foothold

Figuratively, when you talk about Hockey today, there has been a clear upward graph in its evolution since its 1980’s last Gold in Moscow Olympics. From an early stage exit at Olympics to now being a fifth-ranked team in the world, Hockey India is slowly gaining its foothold back.

A now defunct Hockey League of India, called the Hockey India League (HIL), which ran a little over four years before going kaput, is now getting revamped to come back stronger in 2019.

HIL which came to the forefront in 2013 is largely credited with not only improving financial standings of national and international players but also taking the men’s side a few notches up with exposure to international coaches and players alike. In such a case, it’s a pity to know that the players who had just started to make a living through hockey will have to wait another year to try their luck.

Clock runs down or lack of interest?

While clashes with Indoor World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games was the reason cited by the federation for the missing action on Indian soil, circumstances and evidence speak otherwise. Lack of financial assistance, franchise disinterest and players non-availability seem to form the crux of disappearance of HIL. Another interesting observation here being, since HIL is governed by FIH since its inception, the federation allots a clear window to major tournaments to avoid an untimely clash.

Also, the announcement of 2018 Indoor World Cup was made much in advance last year while the Hockey Indian League was still on, so it makes us wonder as to how Hockey India can claim to be totally unaware development.

Can India salvage the lost pride in Hockey?

Going by the word of HI secretary-general and HIL chairman Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad, one can only wait for the league to be back with a fresh outlook towards the development of the game, “We felt it is time to review, evaluate HIL success and comeback with a fresh outlook that will benefit the development of the sport further and our franchises and stakeholders.�

In a desperate attempt to salvage the lost pride of the game that once stood at the helm of our nation, of this Hockey India hopes to start afresh with better visibility and financial stability. A tally of 8 gold, two silver and one bronze at the Olympics in a single sport is a feat not achieved by any other nation so far.

 


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Source: Matchday Frolics
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