Hockey has been India’s national game since a long time but unfortunately it got a backseat with the rise of cricket. With the popularity of cricket and pumping in of huge amount of money from the corporate world and sponsors have enabled huge financial advantages for cricketers and have shifted the public attention towards cricket resulting in the negligence of the game of hockey.
The financial status of Indian hockey players is really poor and they have never enjoyed the status and stardom like their other sport counterparts as cricket or football players who enjoy a huge popularity and celebrity status. This was just before 2010 hockey world cup, when Indian hockey players decided to skip training sessions in protest of non payment of monthly salaries, due to them from the hockey association. This was the turning point for Indian hockey as Indian hockey league was introduced and there was huge revenue generated from television rights.
Irrespective of its status five years ago hockey India(hi) enjoys an eight digit yearly profit. In 2013 balance shows a total profit of rs.7.85 crore. In contrast to this hi had only a marginal profit of 59.7 lakhs in 2010 followed by a huge slump of just 14.7 lakh. The worst came in 2012 when hi suffered a huge loss of more than 2 crore. With these consistent losses the future of hi was in doldrums and there was almost a stake for its survival. But hi surprised everyone by earning a profit of rs. 3.71 crore next year after the introduction of ihl. It raised about 1700 million Indian rupees in broadcasting revenues. Although this revenue is merely 20 percent of that generated from ipl matches, it was a right step for furthering the interest to the neglected sport.
It was a time when India was a great hockey team, endowed with an artistic game of such high standard which other nationals did their best to emulate. But there has been a marked decline of Indian hockey in the last two decades. Australian and European nations have emerged far more powerful, while the new hockey rules and extremely fast laying surfaces have drastically changed the face of the game. Indian hockey could not keep pace with the fast improving Australian and European hockey. The reason clearly attributes to the development of the European domestic circuit and higher level of business sponsorship. So, the call of the hour was to develop Indian hockey on the domestic circuit on the same line as European domestic league with financial sponsorship.
This was the primary idea behind introduction of HIL (Hocky India League) which have been a great financial motivator to many young players, like this year Ramandeep singh was bought up by the up wizards for 5 million rupees, which was the highest amount in HIL for an Indian player. Both Indian and overseas players have reaped financial benefits through this professional approach of HIL. Like Ramandeep Singh an other player Sardar Singh also had a tag of 4.8 million rupees last year. It is obvious that money is the single most important motivator for hockey. There is a staggering prize money given to the winning and runners up team which was 25 million and 12.5 and 7.5 million rupees to the second and third teams, apart from individual prizes, with such financial betterment the hope for future of Indian hockey seems good.
Writer : Niladri Sarkar