Indian Men’s and women’s team captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal are excited with the introduction of the Hockey Pro League. Earlier, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) had confirmed that India’s men’s and women’s national teams (FIH Hero World Ranking: 6 & 12 respectively) will participate in the Hockey Pro League, a unique global international team-sport league as the format was announced.
The league will launch in January 2019, is scheduled to see the nine best men’s and women’s teams from around the world play each other both at home and away every year, across a total of 144 games. The fixtures will take place in national stadiums, week in, week out, from January to June.
During the league, India will take on Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England/Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Pakistan, the latter playing their home matches in Scotland.
India men’s hockey team has been on a growth track over the past few years and the results are beginning to show. India won Silver at the Hockey Champions Trophy in London was followed by a Gold medal at the 2016 Asian Hockey Champions Trophy in the same year. Adding to it, Indian juniors won the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup, beating Belgium in the Final.
FIH’s initiative was lauded by the Indian players. Manpreet Singh, who is currently leading the team at the Hockey World League Semi Final said, “The Hockey Pro League will take the competition between top ranked teams to a whole new level. It will showcase healthy rivalries between teams and needless to say, quality matches will help generate a lot of interest among Indian fans across the globe.”
The women’s team also knows what it means to win. In 2002, the India women won hockey Gold at the Commonwealth Games, beating the higher ranked Australian and English sides in the process.
The Indian women’s team has also seen growth of late, particularly in multiple-nation format; they qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games, after a good performance at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp and won Gold at the 2016 Asia Hockey Champions Trophy.
India’s women’s team will be up against Argentina, Australia, China, England/Great Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand and USA. “This initiative by the FIH will bring a lot of exposure for us and playing top teams at a higher level is always a great way to improve our own skills,” spoke Rani, Captain, Indian Women’s Team, about the new format.