HARENDRA SINGH, FORMER INDIA HOCKEY COACH | New Delhi, May 11, 2012 16:45
hockey | WSH has hit the ground running |
The inaugural edition of the Bridgestone World Series Hockey (WSH) has put India’s national sport on a firmer commercial footing than ever before. The game can only go forward from here on
Harendra Singh, Former India hockey coach
The inaugural WSH was a perfect blend of Indian and European styles of hockey. At the end of the day it was Indian hockey and Indian hockey players benefited most out of that, and that was actually planned. What added spice to this tournament was the fair sprinkling of foreign players. They came from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, South Africa, Argentina, Malaysia,
The endorsement by the the sports minister, Mr Ajay Maken, a visionary and diehard fan of Indian sports. He is doing an excellent job of putting the Indian sports on the world map. His efforts to clean up sports within the federation is the icing on the cake as far as WSH is concerned. Keeping in mind
the quality of hockey and its role in enlarging avenues for players to execute and hone their skills in a professional manner, the WSH has been a perfect platform.
WSH has provided a platform from where all Indian players can make a living from the sport. It has also unsung heroes like Gurjinder Singh, Karamjit Singh, Harjot Singh, Sher Singh, Devender Valmiki, Karan Baskaran, Naveen and many others to get ahead in life. This was long overdue as far as Indian hockey and its enthusiastic followers are concerned. WSH has given a new face to Indian Hockey.
It is clear that WSH is here to stay. For the next edition, a lot of foreign players have shown their interest in the tournament. This demonstrates the impact the first edition of WSH has had. The organisers did a fabulous job of looking after the teams and their players, who were provided a range of facilities, including five-star stay, during the tournament. The vision, planning and execution of WSH was of the highest order all the way until the very end.
The franchise-based WSH, played on a home and away basis like the European league, is a very good concept. It boosts local fan following and the game’s mass appeal. Two matches per day with Neo Sports live telecast added a touch of class and professionalism to the event. Late evening matches extended a lifeline toIndian hockey where school, college and office-going fans can watch all these matches without too much of an effort. The crowd support in Chennai, Pune, Bengaluru, Bhopal and Mumbai was fantastic. It is time to raise a toast to the hockey fan.
WSH Rockstar (Rs 1 crore): Gurjinder Singh (Chandigarh Comets).
WSH Indian Superstar (Rs 50 lakh): Roshan Minz (Pune Strykers).
WSH Golden Stick (Rs 25 lakh): Syed Imran Warsi (Chennai Cheetahs) & Gurjinder Singh (Chandigarh Comets) (19 goals apiece).
WSH Game Changer (Rs 25 lakh): Shakeel Abbasi (Delhi Wizards).
WSH Rookie of the Year (Rs 10 lakh): Lalit Upadhyay (Bhopal Badshahs).
WSH Best Coach (Balkrishna Award): Rajinder Singh (Sher-e-Punjab).
This inaugural Bridgestone WSH has definitely caught the imagination of the Indian public, firstly due to the quality of the hockey that was played by every team, and secondly due to the wonderful live Neo Sports TV coverage of two matches every night.
A number of new synthetic pitches were laid for this event, with brand new lighting, stands and hockey facilities with change rooms. That in itself is a massive improvement and excellent facilities are now available for the benefit of the players, spectators and TV.This is great news for Indian hockey.
Due to the runaway success of WSH, marked improvement has been witnessed in the following areas of the game:
a) Umpiring: This was one aspect of the sport that had been neglected for a long time.
b) Floodlights: Due to WSH, many venues in the country now have state-of-the-art facilities to stage world class tournaments
c) During the first WSH, young players benefited immensely from sharing the dressing room with legends like Dhanraj Pillay, Adrian D’Souza, Vikram Pillay, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Gagan Ajit Singh, etc.
d) High pressure games - Due to the fact that the matches were extremely competitive and the urge to win was keen on the part of every participating team, they provideda genuinely instense workout for the players.
WSH has raised great hopes for the game by providing new players an opportunity to display their skills in a competitive environment. The high TRPs that the tournament attracted was clear proof that there is no dearth of enthusiasm for hockey in this country. It only needs to tapped and packaged in such a way that it not only becomes lucrative for the sponsors and the broadcasters, but also helps the hockey players to earn more money than they have ever done before. This brand of hockey has raised the game to a different level .