Thursday, December 23, 2010


We have organised the MHL since 1987, and this is the 21st edition. But as usual it is littered with poor planning and inconsistent decisions, with the sponsors team getting the extra benefits it seems. Look at what happened to Japan. They came and learnt from us in football and the J-League is thriving, cos they never make mistakes like we do.

So MHF, please read the rival league that will one day make yours seem like a Sunday picnic.

The Indian hockey team may be going through a low following their heart-breaking loss to Malaysia in the Asian Games in Guangzhou recently, but the sport itself is set for a huge boost at home. Indian hockey is set to get a lavish dose of glamour, much like the Indian Premier League did to cricket.

Hockey, in fact, was the first to woo fans through an interesting city-based league format, through the Premier Hockey League (PHL), which thrilled fans across various cities in India from 2005 to 2008. However, it could not sustain itself and soon lost steam. It's time for a comeback now and TOI has reliably learnt of a much bigger and more expensive annual league that could be launched in the second half of 2011.

A leading television network, which also holds the rights to broadcast Indian cricket, has joined hands with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) to help organize and promote the league, which will have as many as ten teams. The budget for each year is said to be running in several crores. Hockey won't be cricket's poor cousin, after all and could warm the fans' hearts during the chilly winters.

"It's a mega project and they have already signed a host of players. It's a great boost for not just us Indian players, but foreigners as well," informed a player, who recently signed a contract for the same.

Sources informed that as many as 50 Indian players have been roped in and those in the top bracket could well be receiving Rs 10 lakhs per year. "Some of these players have already been paid a signing amount of Rs 1 lakh each," he revealed.

The league will be played on a home and away basis under lights across several cities in India and televised live. Almost everything is on lines of PHL except there are more teams in fray this time.

Foreign players have shown their willingness to be a part of the league and the likes of Australian Jamie Dwyer and Argentinian Jorge Lombi are expected to join in. There is no word though on the inclusion of players from Pakistan.

The organizers, however, seem to be finding it difficult to get former Indian captain Viren Rasquinha on board as he is now a part of the Olympic Gold Quest and as such cannot take part.

"You can be sure of a cracking show and almost all players from each hockey playing nation have shown a willingness to be a part of this league," one in the know of things added. Time then for Indian hockey to enter a league of its own.