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PHL men enthused by dash at the goal

With some interesting innovations and a dash of foreign players brought in, PHL has been successful in drawing in the crowds, writes Uthra Ganesan.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 23:24 IST

The Premier Hockey League has been the lone bright spot for the past two years in the annual calendar for Indian hockey. With some interesting innovations and a dash of foreign players brought in, the event has been fairly successful in drawing in the crowds.

This time around, the novelty factor is being provided by a variation in the penalty shoot-out rule. The concept of one-on-one, witnessed for the first time ever in the game between Chandigarh Dynamos and Maratha Warriors, has managed to find favour with players and coaches alike.

Marathas’ goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza, who brought off an amazing five saves in the shootout and the sudden death to help his team win, thinks the concept is exciting but very demanding.

“I think the whole idea is great, it gives an equal chance to both teams to win. In a normal shootout, the scorer has the edge, but here the calibre of both the scorer and the goalkeeper is tested.

“At the same time, it is very exhausting and tiring, both physically and mentally. In fact, in the match against Chandigarh, I was grateful it was finally over – I was completely washed out!” He added that it wasn’t that difficult for him, since he had played under same concept in rink hockey during school days.

For Chandigarh’s Jugraj Singh, who missed both his chances in the same match, the concept is good but needs to be taken up cautiously. “From a spectator point of view, it is interesting, the excitement is maintained. But we need to see it further. For us, who were playing it for the first time ever, things were dicey, but it is not very difficult. I guess with experience, things will get clearer.”

Even the organisers are satisfied with the concept. IHF secretary K Jothikumaran said that FIH’s umpires’ committee member Peter van Roth was excited with the idea of trying it at the international level also.

“Two years ago we used the concept of video umpires in the first PHL, and now the FIH is using it at the top level. I am sure even the concept of one-on-one might find favour with the FIH,” he said.

And Sander van der Weide, the Dutch player with Bangalore Lions, feels that the concept is ideal to promote hockey and make it more popular. “It happens in ice hockey but not in field hockey, and I think to draw in more public, it is a spectacular idea. It makes the shoot out more fun and exciting.”

Asked if that would work, D’Souza is optimistic. “Things will get more even. I hope they try it out, it will make the game interesting.”