Barely a day after Ranchi Rhinos became the second team to pull out of the Hockey India League (HIL), a new franchise was added to the league with Deccan Water Treatment Private Limited bagging the Pune franchise.
The team will be the seventh franchise in the league. Ranchi Rhinos, the winner of the inaugural edition, had pulled out of the HIL late on Thursday night, close on the heels of the winding up of the Mumbai Magicians.
Manoj Bhore, joint-secretary Hockey India (HI) said the addition of the Pune team was a boost for the league as well as hockey in Maharashtra. “It is great that the state of Maharashtra will have two new teams. This new development will be a shot in the arm for the progress of hockey in the state,” he said.
The Pune franchise will play its home games at the Major Dhyan Chand stadium located in the satellite cities of Pimpri-Chinchwad, according to Bhore. The 5,000-seater stadium played host to the Pune Strykers, the runners-up in the sole edition of the now-defunct World Series Hockey (WSH).
Bhore also said that Hockey India has asked the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), the owners of the stadium, to make some changes. “The astro-turf is in very bad condition. We have requested PCMC to relay the turf. It is imperative that there be new turf for the league’s matches,” he said.
Interestingly, Pune is home to the Balewadi Sports Complex which hosted the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) in 2008. Balewadi Sports Complex has a state-of-the-art hockey pitch but lack of stands for spectators mean the franchise cannot use it as their home ground.
According to sources, the coach of the Pune franchise will be Harendra Singh, the current coach of the India men’s junior team.