After motorsports and football, Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has now lent his support to Indian hockey by becoming the owner of the Ranchi franchise of the Hero Hockey India League (HHIL).
Dhoni bought the team along with Sahara India Pariwar, who already is the owner of the Uttar Pradesh Wizards side in the HHIL.
The new Ranchi franchise will be known as ‘Ranchi Rays’ from third edition of HHIL to be held in January-February next year.
Dhoni, a proud son of the city, himself was present on the occasion and unveiled the team logo and jersey at a posh city hotel here.
The previous Ranchi franchise known as Ranchi Rhinos, who were the inaugural champions of HHIL, was scrapped following a distrust between previous owners Patel-PS Group and Uniexcel Group and league organisers Hockey India (HI).
As part of the arrangement, Dhoni is the principal owner of the new Ranchi franchise and Sahara are expected to provide logistical support to the team.
Besides cricket, Dhoni already has invested in two other sports — Mahi Racing and recently became the co-owner of Indian Super League side Chennayin FC.
Talking about his association with hockey, Dhoni said being a sportsperson it was natural for him to promote the national game.
“It is a special day for me, the reason being today I became associated with hockey and own the Ranchi team,” Dhoni told reporters at the unveiling of the Ranchi Rays team.
“It is a real pleasure to be associated with hockey. My first and foremost responsibility is to play cricket, but being a sportsperson my natural inclination is to promote sports,” he added.
Dhoni said he would like to retain most of the Ranchi Rhinos squad but his main purpose behind this initiative is to nurture the natural hockey talent of the state.
“The performance of Ranchi team in the last tow years has been very good. I was born and brought up in Ranchi so when this opportunity came to own the city’s hockey team, I didn’t think twice,” he said.
“My main aim behind this initiative is to develop hockey in this region. We need to develop hockey at the grassroot level. We, Ranchi Rays will try to provide infrastructure and proper platform to harness the talent of this region.”
Apart from Dhoni, other dignitaries present on the occasion were HHIL chairman and HI president Narinder Batra, Director of Sahara Adventure Sports Abhijit Sarkar, HI CEO Elena Norman and Rhiti Sports CMD Arun Pandey.