An exciting new men’s hockey league in India will provide strong competition and a new source of income for the world’s best hockey players – and nine Black Sticks have signed up to be part of it.
Following in the footsteps of the Indian Cricket IPL model, it is understood that the organisers of the new Hockey India League (HIL) will hold a live auction on the 7th November where the six city-based franchises will bid on approximately 100 international players.
Black Sticks captain Dean Couzins (260 caps), veteran Phil Burrows, goalkeeper Hamish McGregor, midfielder Shea McAleese, centre-half Steve Edwards, strikers Simon Child and Hugo Inglis, forward Nick Wilson and defender Andy Hayward will feature in the auction.
Run by Hockey India and sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the competition will be held from 5 January to the 3 February and will be a home and away format culminating into multi header playoffs. ESPN Star Sports has signed as the official global broadcast partner for five years.
Black Sticks vice-captain McAleese says the upcoming auction will highlight where the players are viewed on the international stage and their worth to the teams and franchises.
“As a player, it would mean a lot to get picked up by a franchise as I would be able to commit to being a professional athlete without having to worry all the time about expenses,” says McAleese.
Each franchise will have 24 players which will include 10 foreign and 14 Indian players. Eleven Australians have signed up to the auction including Jaime Dwyer and four Australian co-captains. Other players to sign up include South African captain Austin Smith and German’s Olympic gold medallists Moritz Fuerste, Oliver Korn and Oskar Deecke.
Hockey New Zealand high performance manager Toni Cumpston says it is really encouraging that nine players have put their names forward.
“It is fantastic for our players to get the opportunity to make some good money from this league. It is tough for athletes to make a living in our sport, but the development of the HIL is a big step forward for the sport and Hockey New Zealand is right behind this league,” says Cumpston.
“The best players in the world have put up their hand, so the six teams will be competitive and that coupled with the passion of the Indian crowd will make for a great spectacle,” says Cumpston.
The FIH has reserved time in its international calendar so that the top players are available to participate. The FIH will assist the organisers with some of the technical requirements, each game will be played with four quarters of 17.5 minutes each.