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World League: Snail pace, time-warped mindset – an (2/22/2011)
--K. Arumugam
FIH World League: Snail pace, time-warped mindset – and Qualifiers in disguise

The FIH has taken ‘firm’ steps toward putting in place what is rechristened now as World League. It will start next year and finish in a three-year cycle.

Every endeavour to increase visibility of hockey is welcome, and if the FIH- WL will bring more international matches on the ground and simultaneously on the small screens, it is all the more welcome.

We wish the project take shape and be successful.

Having said this one cannot help but notice the unattractiveness of the present proposal, which is unnecessarily protracted to boring 3-years.

We live in high speed age. Nobody wants to wait for tomorrow. Things go instantly, lest it is forgotten. Even before a sentence is uttered, for instant, it is on facebook or twitter, opinion is created or destroyed, young generation is faster, quicker. Even governments are changed due to this kind of frenzy.

FIH is historically a body of conservatives, never known to have moved on with times with a required the pace. Till the 70s there were more lobbies opposing competition than playing – it took seven years to accept India-Pakistan’s joint proposal of World Cup!

Now, we have been hearing the World Series for the last two years. What we got in the end was a competition that will start next year, go on for another two years before the ultimate champion is found on third year.

If FIH thinks it acted with the speed which with it was supposed, it’s not.

Secondly, Hockey is not that popular that it can withstand popular interest in one of its international activities for three years. This series therefore has the danger of being followed by only a handful, which we hope is not the idea of those who mooted this.

The another lacuna is a mindset -- every competition should end with World Cup or Olympics. Why so?

Why can’t we have an item that starts in a year and finish the same year?

The World Series has the danger of being Qualifier in disguise.

We saw in our experience most of the leading nations fielding second string teams in even Champions Trophies and other invitational tournaments keeping World Cup or Olympics in mind.

This is bane of commercial hockey. World Cup and Olympics, however important for the sports, haven’t changed the complexion of field hockey sport. These two junkies just kept the sport exist. That’s all.

With its 3 year format, the great FIH ranking (which ignore all bilateral test series, invitational tournaments) playing another role, the target again is Qualifying, the present proposal do not qualify to be exciting.

No hockey event can sustain its competitive interest for three years, let us first understand the (low) profile of our sport.

It hardly matters it is played in three countries, its not a earth shaking proposition.

Hockey certainly needs a hardened professional executive to plan and push instant varieties free of age-old assumptions and targets.

A league is played in months or season, and the winner is identified each year. The present FIH model doesn't qualify to be named a League in the first place.

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