FIH looks at India as a major hockey hub

May 11th, 2011 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) India will be the focal point of world hockey for the next four years. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has drawn up an ambitious programme keeping in view the strategic importance of India and allotted it several top tournaments, including a brand new professional league.

FIH president Leandro Negre Wednesday said the successful conduct of the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in India last year gave hockey a huge fillip and they need to carry forward the momentum.

He also dismissed suggestions that the world body is interested in raking in profits from India.

“I was very upset when I read reports that FIH is taking profits out of India but that is not true. We have always maintained that for the development of hockey around the world, India is a very key strategic partner. We have seen the success of the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.”

“Hockey is the national game of India and and so we want to make it the game’s hub for the next few years. We know that there is a big gap between cricket and hockey in this country and we want to bridge that gap.”

Under the ‘FIH Project Chak De’ to promote the sport, India will host the men’s Champions Trophy (Dec 3-11), men’s and women’s Olympic Qualifiers (Feb 15-26, 2012), men’s and women’s junior World Cups (2013), men’s World League Finals (2013) and women’s Champions Trophy (2014). The World League Finals will have continental champions competing and will also offer World Cup and Olympic berths.

Besides, FIH will help India run a professional league, the structure and format of which can only be firmed up after the 2012 London Olympics. Some 50-60 overseas players will be signed on.

The winners of the League will compete in an annual World Club Championship, the inaugural edition of which will be played in India.

“It is a big package for India and we want the league to be a major international event,” said Negre.

FIH chief executive Kelly Fairweather said many global corporates have come forward to sponsor these events in India. “The success of the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games have created a positive atmosphere.”

Fairweather said they are studying various Leagues around the world to structure the city-based professional league in India. “There are several models to go with. Even the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket is a good model for franchise-based Leagues.”

“There will be a six-week window for the professional league because we don’t want a clash of dates with other tournaments. We are working closely with Hockey India and we want to create opportunities for all those connected with the game.”

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