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Indian Hockey eves demand for own PHL

By Staff
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Lucknow, Feb 26 (UNI) Encouraged by the success of the colourful Premier Hockey League, the Indian stick-wielding eves have raised the demand for a PHL of their own in the country.

''The PHL has not only added glamour to the stick sport in the country, but also infused more funds into the game facing a huge financial crunch. The time has now come to introduce a Women Premier Hockey League (WPHL) to popularise women hockey in the country,'' said M K Kaushik, chief coach of national hockey eves, training here for the defence of title at next month's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Interacting with UNI here today Mr Kaushik, who was a member of the 1980 Moscow Olympic gold medallist men's hockey team, said with a vibrant private sector thanks to liberalisation of the Indian Economy, funds were now available for starting and sustaining a WPHL in the country.

''India could well become the second country in the world to have hockey leagues for both men and women, featuring top players from the country and abroad on an innovative format including four quarters of over 17 minutes and roaring cheerleaders to further pep up the colourful spirits,'' the 51-year-old diminutive coach added.

Kaushik is the man accredited with bringing the women hockey in the country to a new high, by guiding the national eves to maiden title triumph at the Commonwealth Games 2002, Afro-Asian Games 2003 and Asia Cup 2004.

Seconding the veteran coach's views, Mamta Kharab, often considered the ''Golden Girl'' of Indian Hockey following her golden goal that clinched Commonwealth crown four years back, said ''we would love to be a part of a WPHL that will not only have national players like us and formers in Pritam Siwach and Surajlata Devi, but also showcase the talent of foreigners like Kate Smith and Nicky Hudson from Australia.'' The WPHL will not only help the players financially, but also provide private sector job and sponsorship prospects for eve sticksters, who currently were only employed by the Indian Railways, she added.

''Playing with foreign players, having an edge over us in fitness and skill will also relieve us from studying their capabilities and weaknesses on pre-recorded CDs, she said,'' We will stand a better chance of beating their sides in major tournaments by playing with them on consistent basis at the WPHL,'' the 24-year-old forward from Haryana added.

Mamta, interestingly was invited to play in Dutch league, but preoccupation with domestic hockey made her decide otherwise, Mr Kuashik said, adding that in the past similar invitation was given by Dutch clubs to Pritam Siwach.

''The PHL with foreign players like Rehan Butt, Sohail Abbas, Balder Bomans and Juan Pablo Escare has lighted up the hockey scene in the country. Similar gloss could be provided to the women hockey through WPHL,'' national team's seasoned goal-keeper Hallen Innocent Marry who shared the Arjuna Award in 2004 with tennis sensation Sania Mirza said.

The team in unison further said if the PHL can have astute Spanish coach Maurits Hendricks as Consultant, the same job can be done for WPHL by wily Aussie coach Ric Charlesworth, who has guided the Australian women to Olympic gold, after failing to grab similar glory for the men side as a player.

Interestingly, Charlesworth has many times in the past expressed his desire to coach the Indian Hockey team, but the IHF has played a deaf ear to the proposal.

UNI ARS SC RK1558

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