Former Pakistan hockey skipper Tahir Zaman on Thursday rued the absence of his country's players from the Hockey India League, starting in two days' time, and felt their inclusion would have added lustre to the tournament.
"It would have been good had Pakistan players played in the league. I would request Hockey India to include Pakistani players in HIL (in future). They would add colour to the tournament," said Zaman at a media conference held here by the league's broadcast partners Star Sports.
Zaman, who is the coach of the Pakistan national team, as well as former India skipper Viren Rasquinha spelt out the benefits of HIL for subcontinental style hockey.
"Hockey needs proper projection like cricket. The European coaches have researched deeply into the game over the years and have gone ahead. HIL provides that opportunity for the subcontinent coaches," said Zaman who is to do studio-based expert comments in Hindi during the league like Rasquinha (in English).
Rasquinha felt that HIL would be serving its purpose if it throws up 3-4 new players every year who are good enough to play for India.
"The skills of Indian and Pakistani kids are superior than others but to do well at the international level many more things are needed like strategy, physical fitness etc. What I learnt as a 15-year-old is still being taught by Indian coaches. We have to move ahead (in coaching)," said Rasquinha.
The 33-year-old former player also agreed to a suggestion that international hockey tournaments need to be taken to cities and centres other than Delhi by Hockey India to attract more interest in the game.
Rasquinha cited his own example of having not played a single international game here in his home town, though he had represented the country in 30 matches in India out of 180 played overall.
"The investment Star is making is needed for hockey in India and Pakistan. This will play a big role in creating new role models for young children keen on the game," said the 44-year-old former player and bronze medal winner in the 1992 Olympic Games.
"HIL is a new beginning for hockey in the sub-continent. More and more children would take up the game after watching this. It also offers an opportunity to the sub-continent players to learn from the world's top players," said Zaman, who felt Punjab Warriors were the best-balanced side in the six-team tournament.
Star India's Nitin Kukreja said that the channel is to invest Rs 1,500 crore on the game over the next eight years and each match in the HIL would be covered by 20 cameras.
"We are treating HIL on par with international cricket. Star is committed to invest Rs 1,500 crore in the next eight years on hockey and this includes the 2018 World Cup to be held in India," he said.