Woeful hockey meets Gill's optimism

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/k/kpsgill1.jpg' class='caption'> When it comes to hockey, India's cup of woes may not quite be running over, thanks to the Asia Cup win. It is still more than halfway to the brim.

Updated: November 17, 2007 11:25 IST
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New Delhi:

When it comes to hockey, India's cup of woes may not quite be running over, thanks to the Asia Cup win. It is still more than halfway to the brim.

But the eternal optimist that KPS Gill is, he believes that the premier hockey league has actually shown the way to other sports in terms of an exciting format.

This year's Premier Hockey league will actually prove to be the best tune-up for next year's Olympic Qualifiers.

The Men's National team may struggle to qualify for the Olympics, but even that hasn't stopped Indian Hockey Federation President KPS Gill's from basking in glory.

To his mind, what is more important right now is the fact that his Federation has become a role model, what with other sports adopting his baby - the Premier Hockey League model.

"I am talking about the two cricket leagues that are being launched. They are doing roughly what we've been doing in the last three-four years or so," said KPS Gill, President, Indian Hockey Federation.

Fortunately, they are not aiming to repeat the hockey team's feats at international level. But the IHF, it seems, is at least concerned about the team's chances of qualifying for Beijing.

That is why the fourth edition of the PHL, which will be held from the December 20th to the January 11th, will only feature 26 matches, as opposed to last year's 37.

This is clearly an effort to reduce players' fatigue and ensure that the boys have enough time to recover before the all-important Olympic qualifiers in Chile from the March 1st.

But Gill, predictably, is not worried about their inconsistent form

"We lost the Asian Games but then won the Asia Cup. All this happened in the space of six to seven months.

"Besides, except for two occasions, we've always had to qualify for the Olympics. So all this is nothing new," said Gill.

The Asia Cup win though was not enough to convince the International Hockey Federation that a new Technical director wasn't needed.

And after much opposition to the appointment of Ric Charlesworth, the IHF, it seems, now believes that if you can't beat them, join them

"We are trying to make Chandigarh his headquarters. So if he's sitting there, he will naturally watch all the matches," said Gill.

And hopefully spot some new talent to add to national Coach Joaquim Carvalho's cupboard.

So more than just the 76 lakh rupees worth of prize money at stake, as seven teams featuring 21 foreign players lock horns this winter.

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