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PHL: We are getting noticed -- Viren Rasquinha (2/1/2005)
--B.David
Viren leads Maratha Warriors team in the PHL Tier I; is an Olympian and one of the msot media-savvy, articulate and thinking player among the Indians. A man of charachter and a good teacher, he is liked by all his colleagues and a delight to any coach. He is both a leader and a good student, capable of carrying out instructions to the field.

Viren came into limelight at the Junior Nationals in Bangalore and went on to play for Junior India at Hobart to win gold in his first big assignment. Later under Cedric he got his senior colours at Dhaka in the PM Gold Cup, where they beat Pakistan in the final. From then on the gentleman hockey palyer, never looked back playing the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur and the Olympics at Athens. A thinking machine who gives 100 per cent everytime he is on the turf, he is an assest to any coach in the defence and midfield. In an exclusive interview to www.stick2hockey.com he spoke on the impact of the PHL in his life and how the novel concept is accepted by the players. And the utilities and drawbacks of the format. And how to overcome them to bring India back to the glorious days. Viren's vision is amazing and he talks positive all the time, where a lesser mortal will find none. He spoke to stick2hockey.com during the ongoing PHL.

"The Premier Hockey League is the mantra by which Indian hockey is going to realise its marketing potential and if this project is properly managed, like they are doing it now, there is no reason why hockey will not take-off to its zenith. The time to celebrate hockey has arrived. The glorious past is a memory. But what is happening now is wonderful for this lovely game. It has become a family game. Families are watching together and having fun. Families are coming to the stadium to cheer their favourite teams and to have a day-out." ""For hockey to become popular, for hockey to become the game of the masses, for hockey to become a house-hold name, sponsors are very important. But it is a circle, you become professional, market the game in the right spirit with a lot of positives, bring the crowds, give returns and mileage to the sponsors who fund the tournaments and players, and in return they give publicity and TV time for hockey. That's how hockey will improve. It will become popular. So for the development and promotion of the game, these factors count a lot. In fact they are everything".

Just let me name a few things in a sequence. First professionalism. Here I am not talking about the administrators. The players should become more professional in their training, in their food habits, in their thinking and finally it should culminate in actions on the field. They should show professionalism in everything they do. They should be more mature and should become both media savvy and TV savvy. See for example, now you cannot do a silly foul and get away with it. Your face will be shown repeatedly in the replays and you will be associated with that nasty move. And believe me no player likes that. Earlier, you can escape. Now you cannot. Then the coaches should be more professional in their approach to tactics, strategy, man management and logistics. Proper scientific inputs should be honoured and followed. That will help raise the standard of the game, which is already high in Tier I. The games here are very fast and with lot of modern tactics and mind games ruling the roost.

After professionals, you need all the old three D's. Dedication, Discipline and determination. Now ESPN, IHF and LSM are doing their part. We have seen lot of non-hockey people passionately supporting the game. We have seen them pump millions of rupees to telecast these games during prime time.

I was pleasantly surprised that people recognise my face now. The other day, I went to a barber shop and someone asked me if I am Viren. Then one day at 11.30 in the night, we went to have this Hyderabadi dhum biryani and every one knew who I am. It's the same with Dilip Tirkey, Arjun Halappa and other stars. This is very important for the promotion of the game. Hockey stars also should become household names. The common man should be aware of his team. At least, he should identify who is who. Then hockey will grow by leaps and bounds. But with this we also have a responsibility. We have to be honest and sincere with our duties. We have to keep the pride and prestige of the country above ourselves. That spirit is the one which brings India back to the centre of the World man. And believe me we have taken that road. We are fast approaching the goal. Our dreams, our vision, our goals....soon you will see results. And take my word, all the players are with me in this difficult but possible endeavour. Thank you and enjoy your hockey.

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