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No formal request for HIL window yet: FIH | Hockey

Hockey India (HI) has been planning to revive the Hockey India League (HIL) ever since former India skipper Dilip Tirkey was elected as president of the National Sports Federation (NSF) last year. HI even took on board a commercial and marketing partner for HIL in April.

Tayyab Ikram
Tayyab Ikram

However, international hockey federation (FIH) president Tayyab Ikram on Wednesday said that they have had only informal discussions with HI regarding a window for the HIL.

“The most important feature of HIL is to provide a professional environment and opportunities for the athletes, which matches very well with my agenda. It will be done on a priority basis once we get a clear window request. We have not yet received a clear request for the window formally. We have only had informal discussions so far, but it will be done without any delay,” Ikram said.

Approval for the window is critical for the HIL to be conducted as foreign players can participate in the lucrative league only if they are not on national duty. Top players these days are largely occupied with FIH Pro League duties – a nine-team elite tournament that is held for several months. The 2022-23 edition that the Netherlands won was held from October 2022 to July 2023.

On being asked why no formal request has been put in, HI secretary general Bhola Nath Singh said: “We have been assured of HIL’s revival by FIH and are working on it. FIH is completely ready to support us in reviving HIL. The official talks will begin soon and you will get to know about it.”

The HIL was held for five seasons from 2013 to 2017 before it folded due to financial and administrative reasons. In July, a new model was floated for an eight-team men’s and four-team women’s tournaments to revive HIL. A financial model was proposed by HIL’s commercial agency, Big Bang Media Ventures Pvt Ltd, discussing the prospects.

More decisions could come on Thursday during the HI Executive Board meeting.

On discussions regarding the new penalty corner (PC) rule that could completely change the game, Ikram said they have not communicated with continental federations yet.

“We are still in the developmental phase. It is just a move for friendly matches at the club level. It is not an obligation yet. We are trying to collect feedback internally on that. There are some countries who are already undergoing the trial, and I am taking their views, and reviews on the same, along with taking their ideas, which have been encouraging ones so far,” said Ikram.

If implemented, the new rule will see the injector push the ball to the stopper at the 23m line instead of the top of the striking circle. The PC specialist will then have to push it back into the ‘D’ as a goal in hockey can only be scored from inside the semi-circle. The rule is being trialled as a safety measure to protect the first rushers and defenders.

“We can look at things in a way where we can protect our players and that’s something we need to continue working on,” said Ikram.

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