Hockey dreams big

Rather strangely, it was a top BCCI official on the stage and a retired Australian cricketer in the front row that gave Hockey India (HI) the reassurance it needed in their biggest hour of enterprise. At the logo launch of the franchise-based Hockey India League (HIL) that kicks off next year, IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla and leg-spinner Stuart MacGill threw their weight behind venture.

The former, in his capacity as an HI adviser and latter, in his post-retirement role as the marketing man responsible for getting one of the game's biggest names Jamie Dwyer to India's franchise-based league.

With India's last-place finish at Olympics fresh in the minds and the two previous ventures on similar lines not quite having a lasting impression on the global game, HIL chairman Narinder Batra needed the support to sell the upcoming event, and its credibility, to convince the world about its longevity.

And like most speakers on the dais, and even MacGill, Batra harped on the ever-so-precious FIH sanction that the HIL enjoys."

"The league will have full support of the international body. With no international action for seven days before and after the month-long event, we wouldn't just have the best players around, but the best coaches and umpires too will be here conducting the league," Batra said.

MacGill, the multi-talented man who dabbles in tourism promotion and wine-tasting these days, says that the international body's thumbs up to HIL has made his job easier.

With Dwyer already on board MacGill is confident that European and Australian players will sign up for the HIL. "The only other fear that the players generally have is about contracts. Most sports people aren't well-educated, so they find it tough to make sense of those thick bunch of papers. It is expensive to consult lawyers and thus we have a common contract for all players that is checked by a lawyer," he says.

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