Indian hockey players excited about big-ticket league
Indian hockey players Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh Sunday hailed the prospect of lucrative money with the Hockey Indian League (HIL) and hoped it will be the turning point for the sport in the country.
India captain Sardar, who emerged as the highest paid player in the auction, feels it would inspire the next generation of Indian hockey players. Sardar, who was a marquee player, was brought for a record USD 78,000 by the Delhi Wave Riders.
"It feels very good. I am enjoying the moment. Hopefully all players will get a good deal. There will a banter among the national team players about who are sold for what," he said, adding that the league was the need of the hour.
"I think the league was much needed. Despite out poor performance in the Olympics, we have proved with our Champions Trophy performance that we can still do well. The kind of money we are seeing now will surely inspire the players to do well," he said.
Indian hockey players were the top draw at the players' auction held here Sunday.
Besides Sardar, ace drag-flicker V.R.Raghunath went for of USD 76,000 for Uttar Pradesh Wizards.
Raghunath said he had no expectations about his price.
"I had no expectations. I am confident that it will be good for the Indian players. It is a platform for the players' dignity and self respect. The quality of the game has improved. Lot of people will be watching the game and it will be encouraging for the players as well," he said.
Other Indian players were also in good demand.
S.V. Sunil (Punjab for USD 42,000), Yuvraj Walmiki (Delhi for USD 18,000), and Shivendra Singh (Punjab for USD 27,500) found good buyers.
Mumbai`s Tushar Khandekar was sold for only USD 100 more than his reserve price of USD 13,900 to Uttar Pradesh while S.K. Uthappa went to Uttar Pradesh for USD 25,000 and Gurbaj Singh to Delhi for USD 36,000.
Ignace Tirkey, who had a reserve price of USD 13,900, went to Punjab for USD 31,000 while Rupinder Pal Singh, with a base price of USD 9,250, was sold to Uttar Pradesh for USD 56000.
But the biggest disappointments of the day were Sandeep and former India captain Bharat Chettri.
Sandeep, who is out of the team after a poor Olympics, initially got a raw deal as Mumbai Magicians brought him for a base price of USD 27,800.
But it was Australian defender Joel Caroll, who ensured that Sandeep gets a better pay package. Caroll was bought by Mumbai for USD 56,000 and as a marquee player, Sandeep will be getting 15 percent more than the Australian.
Asked whether he was disappointed, Sandeep said: "Money is not everything in life. The league will be a big affair. I am looking forward to play in it."
Sandeep, however, said that league will not only help the profile of the game in the country but also world hockey.
"I am sure it will be a great tournament. We not only have some of the best players in the world but also some of the top coaches are here. It will be a great learning experience," he said.
The biggest disappointment of the day, however, was former India captain and goalkeeper Chettri going unsold. The Kalingpong boy had a reserve price of USD 18,550.
Chettri, who led India to a last-place finish at the London Olympics, was among dropped from the Indian squad after the Games.
But India's two goalkeepers got a good deal - both being bought my Mumbai Magicians.
First choice goalkeeper P.R.Sreejesh had a reserve price of USD 13,900 and was sold for USD 38,000 while P.T Rao, who made an impressive debut at the age of 34 at the Champions Trophy, went for USD 17,000. Rao had a reserve price of USD 5,600