Posts Tagged mumbai

World Series Hockey will Change Landscape of Indian Sports

Having followed, worked and written for cricket leagues, I am most enthused with the latest initiation by the Nimbus sports group with the World Series Hockey.  With the opening of the Indian economy and exposure to global sport –one is a little bewildered by the fact that India still remains a single sport nation in terms of sports disciplines with mass following. Yes there are niche sports like Tennis, golf, F1 et al, which are showing growth: however with a neo-rich clientele, their mass appeal is restricted! What Indian sport badly needs, is a sport on the lines of ball sports (soccer in Europe, American football in US and Rugby in Australia and South Africa) -middle class, athletic, fast paced and devoid of an entry barrier, for the common man to pursue. 

The identification of that fast paced sport boils down to none other than India’s national game- HOCKEY.

Why Hockey?  If one identifies other potential sporting disciplines with mass appeal, the ones that come to mind are volleyball and football! However and more so unfortunately, both these disciplines do not have the Indians standards on par at world standards. Despite the growing popularity of football in our country, one needs to understand that the popularity & following exists for European or world cup football and not the Indian version, which is still some years away from achieving top global standards. That boils down the identification of a sporting discipline other than cricket, with pan India potential; boiling down to Hockey. A rich history, coupled with a contemporary Indian team that remains a top ten hockey nation of the world makes Hockey the ideal sport. Additionally the Indian brand of hockey is unique & attractive. The Indian players still are some of the most skillful and right up there with the best in the world.


World Series Hockey will formulate Hockey as a career option for the average young sportsman


Ever since the launch of the World Series Hockey , an initiative by Nimbus sports with IHF; one sees roadblocks  &  threats from parallel bodies and the FIH ( premiere world body for Hockey).  This is the most unfortunate thing that one could see, to an initiative that goes with the mission statement – Reinvigorating Indian Hockey.  The critics and opponents of this league have been misleading the Indian fan by stating that players have been choosing commercial interests over country.  These people need to understand that alone national passion cannot bring about a following for the game! Despite an adequately large talent pool, the number of kids taking to hockey has diminished.  The major reason for this can be pointed to lack of lucrative commercial & social value in playing the sport. What a player needs is a sport where even if he does not get into the national team: he/she could make a good living, earn a social standing and exhibit his talent to a respectable audience base. This is what league sport does to a sporting discipline! It helps garner larger following, generates decent player-salaries, helps set up job opportunities for support staff, coaches’ et al. Most importantly it encourages a young enthusiast and his family to confidently pursue the game as a career option. This is what IPL has done to cricket and is exactly what WSH will do to Hockey.  For the people at FIH and HI (on war path with IHF) my humble request would be – this initiative will build the brand value of hockey, creating great opportunity for   bi lateral series between nations, delivering unprecedented financial revenues! My advice to FIH and HI is simple, concentrate on international hockey (test series between nations et al) and leave league hockey to nimbus and IHF which will act as a catalyst for your international operations, both in terms of popularity and monetary benefits.



Why WSH is a far better product as compared to PHL from ESPN – Star


Well as ironical as it may seem; comparisons between the PHL, India’s first sports league and WSH is inevitable. However I would like to state and as rightly pointed out by the Nimbus chief Harish Thawani, WSH is building all the right ingredients (home and away, franchisees et al) to make it a complete sports league. The PHL was a half baked job, where the players were fit into different teams as is done is school competitions.  All matches were played at a single or two destinations, taking away the true home and away flavor of league matches. Also important to point with WSH is the induction of franchisees. Multiple owners reduces the capital investment burden and propagates fair & dynamic competition between franchisees, resulting in diversity that sets the true flavor of league sport.


In the final analysis this brilliant initiative will transform hockey from an amateur sport to a professional sport. It will change the landscape of Indian sports from a ‘single sport following nation’ to a multi-discipline sporting nation. Hockey today galvanizes the Indian public only once in 4 years during the Olympics. This according to me is a gross injustice to a sport that is our national sport, enjoys a rich legacy & sees us competitive at the highest standards of the game. This is Indian sports’ moment of liberalization. It will bring in riches and social recognition for the sport, its affiliate bodies and players. In turn it will make sport a way of life for a vibrant young population.

I personally believe that WSH has a far more significant role in shaping the future of Indian sport, even more than initiatives like the IPL.  I would urge opinion makers in Indian sport, a vibrant media et al- to take up the cause of WSH as much as they have for cricket and IPL. The benefits for the same will be for all to earn in the long run.


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A tale of two Mumbai legends Lara & Tendulkar

It is inevitable that comparisons are drawn between the two city based leagues plying their trade out of India. Sometimes some similarities between the two leagues seem spooky but are real.

One story that has caught my attention is probably two of the greatest batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar & Brian Charles Lara playing for the IPL and ICL teams respectively, representing the magnificent city of Mumbai.

When Lara aligned himself with the pioneering ICL by taking charge of the Mumbai Champs side he has the pressure of maintaining Mumbai’s supremacy in the new format of the game, after all he had taken over the helm of affairs of the side representing the nerve centre of Indian cricket.

Lara could not maintain Mumbai’s supremacy to the T20 level. The dismal performance of the Champs was a major setback for the fans of ICL for whom the biggest draw in the first year was undoubtedly Lara. The second tournament of the ICL too received a setback with an untimely injury to the master south-paw and was probably the only disappointment for the ICL organizers and its ever growing fan base at the Edelweiss 20s Challenge (ICL’s 2nd T20 tournament). To its credit the ICL has found new heroes and new champions (both in terms of players & teams) to catch the imagination of the domestic Indian cricket fan.

The IPL which was a bigger platform saw Mumbai represented by the Mumbai Indians & the other great batsman and a natural son of Mumbai at the helm of affairs. Almost in his spooky resemblance to his ICL & West Indian counterpart, Tendulkar was injured for the first half of the inaugural IPL season. Even once he set his foot in the arena of city based T20 format, Tendulkar had produced an under-par display of his humongous talent; like Lara, Tendulkar found it difficult to crack the T20 code.

In the larger picture though there can be no better metaphor for Mumbai Cricket than Tendulkar and Lara at helm of affairs of their respective teams; all three stand for great achievements, supreme dominance and pedigreed reputations. It is also important to note that Mumbai cricket, Tendulkar and Lara would be keen crack the T20 code which has emerged as the latest vibrant phenomenon in the world of cricket.

Mumbai cricket and its patrons are proud of their rich history and its contribution of to the game. A Mumbai cricket fans’ vociferous and sometimes almost fanatical support remains unparallel in the history of the game and it would be interesting to see how the two legends devise methodologies to crack the T20 code on both personal and team fronts in the future editions of the ICL & IPL.

Also noteworthy may be the fact that with T20 expected to be the next big thing in the world of cricket; will Mumbai be able to register its dominance in the latest format of the game or will the mantle of nerve centre of Indian cricket pass onto a Chennai (strong teams in both ICL & IPL in the form of Chennai Superstars & Chennai Super kings), Hyderabad (Hyderabad Heroes) or Chandigarh (Chandigarh Lions & Kings X1 Punjab)

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