There was a time when India’s national hockey players regularly turned out for their employers in national championships and major domestic tournaments, before the federation and a series of coaches put a stop to it, citing packed calendars and injury concerns. Now, it might all change.
Hockey India has decided to allow members of the national side, both men and women, to not just participate in domestic tournaments but also go abroad to play in foreign leagues if they wish to. Indian players in the national core group have not played in European leagues or for foreign clubs for more than a decade, Sardar Singh being the last active India player to do so.
“The decision was taken in the HI Executive Committee meeting a couple of months ago itself. There were quite a few reasons considered – organisations make sports quota appointments but the players do not turn up for their employers, which obviously affects the younger players’ chances. It is also important for the public to watch the big names in action if we want the sport to become popular again. And the youngsters still starting out are motivated by playing with their idols and learn a lot from them,” HI president Dilip Tirkey told Sportstar.
Holed up in national camps for a large part of the year, most India players treasure the occasional rest days they get with their families. But that might change now.
“Playing in European leagues is slightly difficult because they have 2-3 month long contracts and are divided into two seasons in a year. Given the international schedule, it will be hectic for the players. But in principle, we have approved it. If there is a gap in the calendar and players can work out their schedules and contracts with the clubs, they will not face any objection from us. Camps for tournaments are non-negotiable but otherwise we won’t stop them,” HI secretary general Bhola Nath Singh added.
The Hockey India League played a big role in the development of an entire generation of Indian players in terms of confidence and skills, as did playing abroad for the likes of Sandeep Singh and Sardar. With the HIL being revived and players allowed to go out, it would be a boost.
- Pro Kabaddi League 2023 LIVE Updates, Gujarat Giants vs U Mumba: Lineups out, Fazel and Sunirdar leading their teams
- IND-W vs ENG-W: Focus on fitness, fielding and use of DRS as India Women enter new era under coach Amol Muzumdar
- Indian sports news wrap, December 5: Vivaan win’s men’s trap in National selection trials; Sonal into AITA Women’s quarters
- IND-W vs ENG-W, 1st T20I Preview: India Women hit reset button under new coach Muzumdar as World Cup beckons
- I-League 2023-24: Delhi FC beats Namdhari FC 2-1, edges closer to Sreenidi Deccan in standings