Olympian Prabhjot Singh believes the World Series Hockey (WSH) that begins next month will help bring back Indian hockey's glory days.
The skipper of the Punjab franchise reckoned that the tournament will help groom young talent and also promote and create a niche for the sport in this cricket-crazy country. "WSH will do for hockey what the Indian Premier League (IPL) has done for cricket. So many young players came into the limelight because of IPL.
Former India captain Viren Rasquinha (right) with Australian Brent
Similarly, in WSH, young players will get a chance to exhibit their talent with the best in the business. This is also a very good platform for them to try and break into the national team," said the 31-year-old.
Happy to be part of Karnataka: Dhanraj
Former India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay was pleased to learn that he had been picked into the Arjun Halappa-led Karnataka franchise of WSH. "Arjun is an experienced player and it will be great to play under him. Besides, my good friend Suniel Shetty is the mentor of the Karnataka franchise, and recently, he supported me a lot in organising the 4th National Corporate Kabaddi Championship in Mumbai. It's is my turn now to return the favour now through some goals hopefully," the 43-year-old four-time Olympian told MiD DAY.
Keen to build club loyalty: Rasquinha
FORMER Indian skipper Viren Rasquinha, who was drafted into the Mumbai franchise yesterday, is happy with the players his team has roped in for WSH. "We have a balanced team... a good blend of experience and youth, a good mix of Indian and foreign players, and as many Mumbai players as possible. We want to build club loyalty and a strong fan base," said the midfielder, whose team has captured young Mumbai sensation Yuvraj Walmiki.
Pakistan players' visas almost done
The Pakistan Hockey Federation may not be in favour of their players taking part in the inaugural WSH given it's not sanctioned by hockey's world governing body, FIH. However, their players on board the WSH bandwagon have already gone ahead and applied for their India visas and are keen to play, claims the organisers.
"Rehan Butt, Zeeshan Ashraf, Imran Warsi, Waseem Ahmed, Mudassar Ali, Tariq Aziz, Adnan Maqsood and Shakeel Abbassi have all already applied for Indian visas and we are helping them get it processed by speaking to the necessary authorities.
"In fact, their drag-flicker Warsi made a few mistakes while filling out his application form so there's been a slight delay on that end. All their visas should come through in the next few days," a member of the WSH organising committee told MiD DAY.
Rajpal does U-turn, ready to play WSH
Former India captain Rajpal Singh has done a U-turn of sorts and agreed to play in the WSH, it is learnt. MiD DAY reported recently how the organisers of WSH were all set to send Rajpal a show cause notice for recently speaking against the tournament despite signing up for it and even accepting a signing amount for it. "We had already prepared the notice but just before our lawyers were about to send it to him, Rajpal got in touch with us and claimed he was misquoted by the press. He's ready to play the WSH," a source told MiD DAY.
'Aussies keen to come next year'
As reported by MiD DAY recently, Australia's first-team players will not be featuring in the inaugural WSH due to their preparatory camp for the London Olympics. Aussie midfielder Brent Livermore confirmed this to MiD DAY yesterday. "We have a training camp at the Institute of Sport in Perth from January to August, so, the first-team players will not be part of the WSH. But they are all really keen to part of it next year," he said.