For many quarters, Khan's interest could do enough in injecting a fresh life into the poor hockey infrastructure in the city. Kolkata is yet to have an astroturf for holding competitive hockey matches and could not participate in the national hockey leagues in the past for this reason. Even smaller cities like Ranchi and Guwahati in eastern India are developed in this regard. But SRK's has given a firm proposal to Hockey India after the latter decided that a team from the eastern zone will take place in the HIL next year.
SRK, the brand ambassador of Bengal, has said that he can buy a hockey team for the HIL but it has to be from Kolkata. Such a proposal has boosted the Bengal Hockey Association (BHA), who thinks that it will help the hockey infrastructure in the state to improve. They hope that if SRK's proposal indeed sees the light of the day, the poor hockey infrastructure in Bengal will change for the better.
BHA sources said Hockey India officials asked them whether they can arrange for temporary floodlights at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex in Kolkata. The astroturf at the SAI complex in Salt Lake is the only hope for staging HIL matches in the city. However, BHA's concern is the lack of interest about hockey at the government level. Can SRK's proposal help Bengal's dying hockey culture to come alive?
Last month, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, BJP leader Arun Jaitley and media personality Rajat Sharma were named as board members of the HIL. Auctioning of players for the HIL is scheduled in Sept. The Sahara Group has acquired the Lucknow franchise while Jaypee Group has taken over the Punjab franchise. Total six franchises will be selected from 12 cities that have hockey infrastructure and facilities. The 33-match-series will be broadcast on ESPN Star Sports.
(With inputs from Anandabazar Patrika)