Star India mid-fielder Sardar Singh and Australia captain Jamie Dwyer were today named as brand ambassadors of the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) starting on January 5 next year.
Apart from naming the brand ambassadors of the league,Hockey India (HI) also unveiled the logo for the six-team franchise-based event.
Announcing the ambassadors of the league,HI secretary general and HIL chairman Narinder Batra thanked the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for granting a one-month window for the event,which will be played on home-and-away basis.
“Since it is an FIH-sanctioned league,there will be best of coaches and international players. Each team will have 24 players — 14 Indian and 10 foreign players out of which five international players can play at a time,” Batra said.
“FIH will be sending technical officials for the league. There will a total of 33 matches — 30 league matches,two play-offs and final. The league will help young Indian players to play alongside the best of world hockey,” he added.
IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and renowned media personality Rajat Sharma,both of whom board are members of HIL,were present during the gala function.
Shukla lauded HI for conceptualising the IPL-style league.
“HIL is a noble thought on HI’s part. Ther format of the league is good and will be financially viable for the franchises,” he said.
“The IPL experience will help the hockey league. The IPL and BCCI are willing to support all games by whatever way we can. As a member of HIL board,I will try to help and promote the league.
“I also thank the FIH for creating a window for HIL as without international players,the HIL could have lost its charm,” he added.
Sharma,on his part,said that the HIL will benefit from Shukla and BCCI member and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s (HIL board member) association with the league.
The 33-year-old Dwyer,who has been part of Australia’s Olympic,World Cup,Champions Trophy winning sides,said not only India,the HIL will be beneficial for world hockey.
“For a hockey player it is always nice to come to India where people support the game tremendously. HIL has huge potential,it will be great for Indian hockey.
“Indian players will benefit from the league. HIL is a huge step for hockey to grow throughout the world,” said the FIH World Player of the Year.
Sardar too agreed with Dwyer and said,”The more we play alongside international players,it will be helpful for Indian hockey.”
ESPN-Star Sports has been named as the official broadcast partner of HIL,the players auction for which will be held at the end of next month or first week of November.
The four out of the six franchises have already been picked up by major business houses — Sahara India Pariwar for Lucknow,Jaypee Group for Punjab,Patel-Uniexcel Group for Ranchi and Wave Group for Delhi.
It has also been learnt that Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and Reliance Industries Limited owner Mukesh Ambani are in the running to buy the Mumbai franchsie of HIL.