The HIL is without doubt an added value in the international hockey calendar. It has proven this for 3 consecutive years and is about to embark on its 4th season… with new sponsors, new teams, new coaches… and new players. Next Monday (2016-01-18) the opening match will be played in Bhubaneswar between the local favorites the Kalinga Lancers and the Uttar Pradesh Wizards. Without doubt in front of a full stadium with thousands of hockey crazy Indian supporters, a couple of thousands more will follow the games on internet or local TV stations around the world and millions, yes millions… will watch the tournament on TV in India.
However since it is an Olympic year with Rio 2016 starting in just over half a year, the HIL will have to make do without the internationals from at least 3 top nations. No Dutch, no Belgian and no Spanish internationals are “allowed” to enjoy this wonderful addition to the hockey calendar. They will not be making their share of rupees to be able to continue to live as a full professional for their sport in this crucial year… Because they’re off with their national team to South Africa and/or Argentina preparing for Rio and yes… even for pro hockey players the possibility of an Olympic medal ranks higher then making a living. So when put to the choice by their national coaches these guys really have no choice then to forsake this year’s HIL and hoping the HIL teams will have a spot for them next season again. The Australians, the Germans and the English did manage to fit the HIL into their preparations before Rio… so their players (at least the ones that wanted to and were picked during the auction) will make their appearance in the HIL that is about to start.
I, for one, am sorry that not all top players were given the chance to compete (and make some money) in this great event. But it’s no use crying over spilled milk… A truly great hockey year is about to start with lot’s of hockey to enjoy all around the globe, starting of this Monday in India with the 4th HIL, followed by the top European competitions and peaking with the best of hockey in August during the Rio Games and finishing off in style back in India at the end of the year with the Junior World Cup…
2016 is going to be an exciting year for hockey !