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My Last Word
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Time to recall WSH players as HIL hardly found new (3/28/2013)
--K. Arumugam
Time to recall WSH players, as HIL hardly found any new talent.

My Last Word: The Hockey India League hype has died down. Its time to ask one vital question: Whether the commercial entity has fulfilled one of its objectives – of spotting new talents.

If an unbiased opinion is formed based on numbers that are qualitative, it will throw light on the subject in question. It is clear that though HIL has achieved on many fronts, it came as a cropper in spotting new talent due to many factors.

A caveat here. We talk about new talent not someone already played for India, but not well known outside hockey circle, and thus hardly a star, but became so because of HIL’s success. Yes, like in the case of Mandeep Singh or Malak Singh.

At the outset, it has to be accepted that the Hockey India League is a new vista not just in India, but in the world hockey as a whole. It’s a grand success the day the hockey world’s first auction had taken place a month before the ball was set in motion.

HIL has got wider coverage than expected, millions followed, mostly new comer Gen Next to hockey. Response to HIL’s and their franchises’ social media vouch-safe for this.

Quality of hockey was poor compared to WSH, only Ranchi Rhinos and Delhi Waverriders rescued the HIL, however, being the first exercise of this magnitude, presence of world’s real stars, promotional packages helped to overcome this. undefined

If today Mandeep Singh or Malak Singh is a known face to the whole lot of hockey followers, new and old, its is due to HIL and its quality broadcast.

Administratively, financially (to HI and players), and spectacle wise HIL is a huge success, now none talks about WSH.

HI therefore has reasons to smile.

But if HI thinks that it has found new talent through the HIL process, and thus it can ignore about 50 quality youngsters who are in any day is as good as those who do national duty right now, numbers and scientific analysis do not support HI’s intransigent view.

Now the numbers that indicate why HIL fails to find out new players – like for an instant Shivender Singh and the like through the process of Premier Hockey League.

120 players played in the HIL
50 players are from other countries
70 Indians only could take took part.

Who are these 70 Indian players?
19 have already played Olympics or World Cup
9 have already represented India at Senior levels
22 players have played Junior Internationals.

This leaves exactly 20 players, who can be categorized as domestic players.

Can we rightly feel happy on the fact that at least 20 domestic talents got a chance to play in the high voltage HIL?

No. Because each team had 24 players, but only 20 can be fielded for a particular match out of which only 18 can play.

All the HIL stars that public at large now adore like Malak Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurmail Singh, Pardeep Mor, Satbir Singh and Sushant Tirkey, have already played 3-4 junior internationals, and hence do not fall under new talent. Yes, they got stardom solely because of HIL. We are happy on that, but its a different matter.

After through scrutiny of relevant documents, I found to my utter disbelief that 80-90 percent of these ‘domestic players’ hardly got any chance to play.

Because, the coaches were cautious, they have to deliver and played safe – which means they did not offer much space to these unproven talents. Unless one gets a chance to play sufficient time on the turf how can he showcase his talent.

Coaches cannot be faulted here but only the system.

That’s why we don’t talk about Rahul Shilpkar (?), Sumit, N. Sharma, Suresh, Gaganpreet, Parvinder, Sanjay, Raj Hans, Rinel, Arvind, and the like.

It is pertinent to note the fact that if most Jr. internationals who played the WSH are considered for HI, even these 20 would not have got the chance.

A system that had scope for only 20 domestic players -- due to less number of franchises – is at fault. It cannot unearth new talent at all. So the HIL could not.

That’s why its responsibility of public to push for inclusion of WSH players in the forthcoming camp which is bedrock for selecting team for the Junior World Cup.

There are a dozen players who already represented India at junior levels with merit, and are full of energy and enterprise, waiting for the iron curtain of HI to open so that they can realize their potential and dream.

If HI tends to mis-interpret, knowingly or purposefully, the success of HIL to success of talent scouting, it will again commit another blunder. It selected a team without established stars and finished last at the last Olympics.

I sincerely hope HI differentiates between what is commercially saleable and successful need not always prove beneficial to making of Team India.

Hockey India General Secretary Narinder Batra has definitely proved he is better administrator than any of his rival in the hockey body political cell pool.

Now he is a winner. Winners always show magnanimity. He should now show compassion to youngsters, run hockey affairs as truly national. Instead of selectively calling one or two players, like Gurjinder Singh, he should invite all the young stars of WSH for the camp starting at Bangalore in a few days’ time.

This is only way to success which Indian hockey desperately in need of.

PIC Caption:
Akashdeep, Mandeep, Satbir, Gurinder, Keshav Dutt and others part of bronze winning 2012 Junior Asia Cup team. They went on to shine in the HIL a year later. They are proven talent before the HIL, that's why they were purchased on good tariff in the first place.

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