New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) on Tuesday announced India's star midfielder Sardar Singh and Australian legend Jamie Dwyer as brand ambassadors for the much talked about Hockey India League (HIL), scheduled to take place in from January 5 next year.
Indian Premier League cricket chairman Rajiv Shukla and India TV's Rajat Sharma shared the stage with Sardar and Dwyer, with HI general secretary Narinder Batra accompanying them.
Dwyer, who is the captain of the Australian team, is a winner of the Olympic Games gold, FIH World Championship, five Champions Trophy and three Commonwealth Games gold. Also he has been selected for the FIH All-Star Team six times in his career spanning over 250 international caps and more than 170 international goals.
Hockey India League, a 6-team franchise-based tournament, is scheduled to be played from January 5, 2013.
The other HIL brand ambassador, the 26-year-old India centre-half Sardar, was named in the FIH All-Star Team in 2010 and 2011. He was also the player of the tournament at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2010 and 2012. Sardar has played close to 150 matches for India, scoring 12 goals.
Shukla, the chief guest for the event who also unveiled the HIL logo, said that HI's initiative will help Indian hockey make remarkable progress. "HIL is a novel concept and will catapult the game in India." he said, adding, "I promise that we [BCCI] will provide all the help we can."
The IPL chairman was of the opinion that unlike cricket, the six franchise of the HIL will not have any financial burden. "Hockey franchises will not have the same financial burden as IPL franchises. It's [HIL] a financially viable format," Shukla added.
Both Sardar and Dwyer appeared excited about playing in the league, the auction for which will include 90 players, including India's full London Olympics squad and 14 players from Pakistan.
"The best thing is that players of all international teams will play in HIL and that will help Indian players immensely," Sardar said.
According to the 33-year-old Dwyer, the tournament is going to be a great success. "This tournament is a huge step and HIL is going to be great for hockey in India," the Australian captain said.
The HI secretary general, Narinder Batra confirmed that the HIL players' auction will be held somewhere in the end of October or start of November. However, on picking players from the World Series Hockey, Batra opted to play safe. "World Series Hockey (WSH) is an unsanctioned event. We can't pick WSH players to play for India for 1 year and our hands are tied by those FIH regulations."
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has also provided a 1-month window for HIL with no international action scheduled during those 30 days.