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A throwback to Hockey India League

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How did the Hockey India League start?

Before the inception of the Hockey India League, the Indian Hockey Federation made many attempts to make hockey leagues a commercial success. Premier Hockey League was founded in 2005 but failed to meet financial expectations thus later replaced by World Series Hockey. International Hockey Federation (FIH) un-sanctioned the World Series Hockey tournament just after the inaugural season after the governing body disbanded. Hockey India decided to launch its own franchise-based league just after the formation of the board, inspired by the Indian Premier League (IPL). And that’s how India’s biggest hockey league came into existence.

hockey india league 1
Image Source: Twitter.com

Hockey India appointed known personalities like Rajeev Shukla, Rajat Sharma, and Arun Jaitley as board members of the league. Star Sports became the official broadcasting partner of the league and broadcasted all seasons on its main channels. Hero got title rights for the first three seasons while Coal India was the title sponsors for the last two years. HIL relived the game and popularised it in audiences, specially non-hockey viewers thus became a huge success. League was recognized as one of the top sports leagues in India along with the Indian Premier League, Pro Kabaddi League, and Indian Super League.

A glance from the peak:

Young Indian players used to crave for a stage where they can learn many things from foreigners and HIL provided exactly the same. Indian players got opportunities to learn and observe many different things in the presence of top quality foreigners. Hockey India League proved as the perfect stage for Indian youngsters to utilize their potentials just like Harmanpreet Singh. It was the first time when top Indian stars like Sandeep Singh, Sardara Singh, Manpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, and VR Raghunath we battling against each other on such a big platform. Hockey India also brought a revolutionary rule from the 2016 season where players were being awarded two goals for one goal from field play.

Hockey India opened bids for six teams in the inaugural season but only five teams joined thus league commenced with Punjab Warriors, UP Wizards, Delhi Waveriders, Ranchi Rhinos, and Mumbai Magicians. Odisha-based side Kalinga Lancers joined the roster from the second season making it six teams league. League got high profile owners such as John Abraham and Suresh Raina right from the start. DoIT owned Dabang Mumbai HC and MS Dhoni owned Ranchi Rays replaced defunct franchises Mumbai Magicians and Ranchi Rhinos from the third season.

Hockey India League champions:

Ranchi Rhinos (2013)
Notable players- Moritz Fürste (captain), Francisco Juncosa, Amit Rohidas, Fergus Kavanagh, Ashley Jackson, Manpreet Singh etc.

Delhi Waveriders (2014)
Notable players- Sardara Singh (captain), Arjun Halappa, Simon Child, Yuvraj Valmiki etc.

Ranchi Rays (2015)
Notable players- Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton, Mandeep Singh, Daniel Beale, Birendra Lakra etc.

Punjab Warriors (2016)
Notable players- Sardara Singh (captain), Mark Knowles, Chris Ciriello, SV Sunil, Armaan Qureshi etc.

Kalinga Lancers (2017)
Notable players- Moritz Fürste (captain), Glenn Turner, Amit Rohidas, Lalit Upadhyay, SK Uthappa etc.

hockey india league 2
Image Source: Twitter.com

Unexpected intermission:

After five successful seasons, HIL governing committee announced that the league will not return in 2018 and scheduled it for 2019. Hockey India gave an unstable relationship between the board and franchise owners as the reason behind postponement. But Hockey India League failed to make comeback in 2019 due to critical circumstances.

Also Coronavirus pandemic blocked the road for a comeback in 2020 with totally different formats and rules. Hockey India board lost stability right now after the occurrence of internal issues such as power struggles between members. Meanwhile, hockey fans are still hoping for a grand comeback of the Hockey India League.

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