The first two editions of the Hockey India League (HIL) generated a decent response and its chairman Narinder Batra sees the competition expanding from six to eight teams by 2016, a development which will be welcomed by domestic and foreign players alike.
Odisha’s Kalinga Lancers were the sixth team introduced in HIL-2 which ended in Ranchi on Sunday.
“The plan is to have eight teams by 2016 and 10 by 2018. One of the teams joining the tournament will most likely be from south India as the region doesn’t have a representation yet,” Batra told IANS in New Delhi on Thursday.
The league began with five franchisees — Delhi Waveriders, Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Ranchi Rhinos and Mumbai Magicians.
“The focus is on making the existing franchisees sustainable and after three years, we will get them to a break even level.”
Asked why not an extra team for 2015, Batra said: “It was decided to have only six teams for the first three years. We want to give them the opportunity to grow and the sponsors remain limited.”
The league has attracted top players from top hockey nations such as Germany, Australia and the Netherlands.
Star Australian forward Jamie Dwyer and Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockamann are among the many foreign recruits who feel more teams will further add to the credibility of the tournament.
“This year the organisation was much better than the inaugural season. Similarly, more teams will mean more competition which can only be good for the event’s future,” Dwyer had told IANS in Ranchi on Sunday when his team Punjab Warriors lost the HIL final to Delhi Waveriders.
His Punjab teammate Stockmann added: “The quality of hockey is as it is good but with more teams it could only get better.”