Hockey India confirms no HIL in 2018

NEW DELHI: Confirming news that has been doing the rounds for a while now, it was announced on Tuesday that there will definitely NOT be a sixth edition of the Hockey India League in 2018. 

HIL's governing committee, comprising representatives of Hockey India and other stakeholders, are instead looking to schedule the next edition of India's only professional hockey league to an unspecified window in 2019.

“After five years of successfully organizing the Hockey India League which has greatly helped unearth talent and significantly improved the national team’s performances at both junior and senior level, we felt that it is time to review the League, evaluate its success and come back with a fresh outlook that will benefit the development of the sport further and our franchises and stakeholders. This decision was made after consultation with all our commercial partners (read broadcast partner Star India in the main) and meeting the contractual obligations of all parties involved,” stated Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, HIL chairman and HI secretary general.

Ahmad's reasons for the "suspension" were obvious. That HIL's January-February window was directly clashing with world body FIH's earlier announced Pro League (which HI was very much a party to it needs noting). That HI chose the irrational course of pulling out of the Pro League, thereby shooting itself in the foot and compromising international exposure for bothe its men's and women's teams, has already been discussed on this platform but needs restating. 

Coming back to Ahmad, he further assured that this will only be a "temporary discontinuation" and that HIL would return in 2019. “Due to a conflict in dates of the schedule of Hockey India League 2018 and a major international tournament which was likely to restrict the participation of international players, it was decided that the best solution was to postpone the conduct of the sixth season of the League. I want to emphasize that we want to resume the league in 2019 albeit with greater prospects to make it more viable financially not only for the stakeholders but also for the players,” he asserted.

Assertions/assurances aside, the fact remains that the next edition of HIL, if it returns, will next make its appearance a good two years from now.