The recently elected president of the official federation of the sport in the country aims to resurrect the competition.
In what may be considered a positive move for Indian hockey, Hockey India wrote to the global regulatory organization FIH in October 2022 to inquire about a slot in the international calendar for the domestic league Hockey India League (HIL). FIH CEO Thierry Weil revealed that Hockey India’s new president, former India captain Dilip Tirkey, has written to him seeking future date availability. Tirkey has wanted to resurrect the defunct HIL since he took over the organisation.
The Hockey India League was a franchise-based tournament that began in 2013 and ran for five seasons till 2017. The league provided enormous benefits to Indian players, including increased fitness and tactical understanding as a result of high-quality and competitive matches. The participation of foreign players and coaches also contributed significantly to the league’s success.
We take a look at five reasons why the league should be resurrected.
HIL will help unearth new domestic players
Compared to other countries, India’s domestic structure is in disarray, with only one senior national and a few dispersed tournaments for all age levels. Finding depth is an urgent requirement for both men’s and women’s teams, and this is where a redesigned HIL can again come in handy. “When HIL was introduced, players started to understand how to play in front of a crowd.
There was foreign exposure in there. When foreign players came in, we started observing how they practice, how they attend meetings, how they prepare for matches, and how they analyse their game after the match. As we learned all that, players became a little more mature. It’s reaching that maturity level that taught us to handle pressure, to dream of going and winning big tournaments”, India’s goalkeeper PR Sreejesh quoted as saying by ESPN on the importance of the HIL.
It will bridge the gap between the Indian players and the international stars
Teams such as Belgium and the Netherlands have players involved in the lively club structure in both countries. There is no reason for the richest hockey body not to have a club scene in India and to deny players the opportunity to play in Europe, where the finest play for three to four months each season. When New Zealand, whose financial programme is dwarfed by India’s, can support a four-team franchise model to expose their players to international competition, you know Hockey India has to do better.
HIL will also help in improving the infrastructure
Major international events are well-known for their ability to reignite enthusiasm in the sport. One would expect Hockey India and its state organisations to collaborate with their respective state governments to plan and stage such events at various sites around the country in order to promote the game. Most of India’s best stars no longer participate in nationals since they are either attending camps or playing matches abroad.
There is no other option for prospective players to observe these stars in action live unless they travel to Bhubaneshwar every time the team plays there. Regardless of the quality of facilities and ease of doing business in Odisha, it is perhaps time for Hockey India to cast a wider net and look for methods to establish more venues that can host big-ticket international matches. HIL as of now seems the way to go.
It will give players financial stability
It provided financial assistance to the players. Playing with and against the finest players in the world improved their strategizing skills, gave them confidence, and offered them access to some of the best minds in the business. Financial stability would also help the players to focus just on the game and their skills.
It might bring more foreign coaches to India
One of the worries Hockey India in recent times has encountered is the lack of coaches. After Reid’s resignation, several names are doing the rounds about who could become India’s head coach. But with the league around, there are chances the teams will employ the best in the business and that would mean that the coaches are already in the loop with Indian hockey.
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