India hockey forward Yuvraj Walmiki (right) was picked up by UK United as the star player of their team in the city’s first franchise-based rink hockey league, the Malad Rink Hockey League (MRHL) as the draft system and team compositions of the December 1-5 tournament were worked out at the Malad Gymkhana yesterday.
Five more teams — Orlem Vikings, Wadala Wanderers, Poisar Pirates, Jabaaz Almedians and Mumbai Phantom — will participate in the R2.5 lakh prize money league-cum-knockout tourney initiated by former India players Gavin Ferreira and Cornelius D’Costa.
Walmiki felt the league will give Mumbai hockey a much-needed fillip. “Mumbai has always contributed handsomely to the Indian hockey team, but of late the numbers have diminished and that can be attributed to the lack of quality tournaments in the city. Earlier, there was a slew of rink hockey tournaments across the length and breadth of the city but that has reduced drastically. I’m sure the MRHL will help boost the profile of the game given the best players of the city are in the fray,” Walmiki told mid-day yesterday.
Ferreira and D’Costa meanwhile, have their fingers crossed. “It’s a first for us, so we are obviously nervous, but the intention is to give back to the game that has given us so much,” said Ferreira.
D’Costa felt the teams are evenly distributed. “The teams have been picked by a free and fair draft system, so all sides are well balanced. There’s no favourite,” said D’Costa.