Ace centre-half Sardar Singh and famous Australian striker Jamie Dwyer were named the brand ambassadors of the Hockey India League (HIL) on Tuesday.

The logo of the league, highlighting the blue and pink turf and yellow ball used in the London Olympics, was also unveiled at a function here.

Referring to India’s last-place finish in the Olympics, Sardar said the HIL, scheduled to start from January 5 next, would help the players improve their game.

“All the foreign players, who will participate in the HIL, are playing for their National teams. Playing alongside them will enhance our confidence and help our (National) team’s performance,” said Sardar, who was named in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) All-Star teams in 2010 and 2011.

Dwyer, a five-time FIH Player of the Year, said the league would be good for the future of Indian hockey. “I have always enjoyed playing in India.

“It is a huge step and is the right way for hockey to grow. The league is not restricted to the Indians. Players from all over the world will participate in it and the Indian players will gain from this.”

Cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council chairman Rajiv Shukla, who is a member of the HIL advisory council, said the hockey league would provide the younger players a good platform.

The league, promoted by Hockey India (HI), has finalised four franchises. They are Sahara India (Lucknow), Jaypee Group (Punjab), Patel-Uniexcel Group (Ranchi), Wave Group (Delhi). Two other franchises will be decided in the coming days.

Altogether 33 matches will be played with six teams playing on home-and-away basis before the playoffs. The team topping the table will get a place in the final, while the sides finishing third and fourth will play the first playoff game and the winner will meet the team ending up second for a place in the final.

Each team can have 24 players, with a maximum of 10 overseas players in every side. The auction of the players will be held next month.

The FIH has created a separate 30-day window for the HIL besides a week’s time each prior and after the event. The world body will also help in the technical conduct of the league.

HI Secretary General Naridner Batra said a panel of coaches would be made available to the franchises to pick the coaches of their choice. “Michael Nobbs (coach of the National team) has the option to be part of the HIL,” said Batra.

Batra said, besides the league, HI was planning to organise bilateral series with some top teams in order to expose the Indian players to quality competition.

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