Indian Hockey team player Sandeep Singh checking Hockey sticks in Jalandhar ahead of Hockey India League. The inaugural edition of the league is scheduled to start from January 14. Pardeep Pandit/HT
Hockey, which was once considered our National Game is all set for a league of its own. The league, titled the Hockey India League (HIL) that began on January 14, will go on till February 10 and will be featuring players from India and abroad.
Strangely, out of the six teams that were available for auction, team Bangalore remained unsold. But nothing of this sort has ever happened in the world of cricket as we see superstars and entrepreneurs giving their best bids possible when it comes to buying a team in the IPL. What further adds to hockey’s miserable state in India is that despite going all out with their promotions, people are hardly aware that such a league is going to take place. Most of the restaurants in the city are not geared to screen this league unlike they are for IPL and Champions league. Sanjay Sharma, restaurant manager, Hard Rock Cafe, says, “No we won’t be screening these matches as people are not interested. We only showcase big events like the T20 world cup or IPL matches.”
“If there are no live cricket matches then we will be screening the hockey matches as cricket is always given the first priority,” says the manager of Pebble Street. Shahbaz Faisal, restaurant manager, Underdoggs Sports Bar & Grill, adds, “Out of the many screens that we have at least five would screen the hockey matches rest all the screens are dedicated to the India-England ODI series as cricket is what people love to watch.” But not all the places in the Capital are following this strict rule. Aditya Mittal, co-owner, Spirit Restaurant and Bar, says, “All sports are equal, no preference is given to any sport. We will screen what our customers want to see be it cricket, soccer or hockey.”
No more the National Game?
An RTI has revealed that there is no record to state that the govt officially declared hockey as the national game. The curiosity about national symbols drove Lucknow-based 10-year-old Aishwarya Parashar to file an RTI application to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking certified copies of orders related to declaration of national anthem, song, sport, animal, bird, flower and symbol. In a reply, sports ministry under secretary Shiv Pratap Singh Tomar replied that the ministry has not declared any sport or game to be the National Game!