“The now defunct Premier Hockey League (PHL) was a professional league competition for field hockey clubs in the top division of the Indian hockey system. There were seven teams in the PHL.”
It was a painful sight to see my once upon a time favourite tournament’s description in Wikipedia. However, the reality had to be acknowledged with a pinch of salt. I still recall the days when celebrities like Dhanraj Pillai, Pargat Singh and Deepak Thakur were coveted by the fans watching the players. Ironically, the national game was always eclipsed by its western cousin – cricket, which we had inherited. In reality we craved for a ticket in Edern Garden, the Wankhade, Chepuk or Chinnaswamy stadium. The images of Gachibowli (Hyderabad), Bangalore Hockey Stadium, Sector 42(Chandigarh) and Mahindra Hockey stadium (Mumbai) have slowly fainted off people’s memory. From foreign coaches like Jose Brasa, Joachim Carvalho to Indian coaches like A.K. Bansal, each and every person who stepped into the hot seat for uplifting the perspective of game in nation was eventually dispatched out of the system. Lack of systems and support (from administrators as well as public) acted as a catalyst to probably de-motivate the players.
One can recall the hue and cry which we the citizens of the nation conducted when Indian cricket team tasted a whitewash defeat in New Zealand prior 2003 world cup. What followed next was Indian cricket team turning into the finals of the world cup. Violent protest is an absolute no to bring in a change, but had we channelized the same passion (that we have for cricket) to hockey, perhaps things might have been different today.
Today, the nation eagerly await the next season of Indian Premier League, but none of us have questioned Indian Hockey Federation on why was Premier Hockey League let to die abruptly. The topic like others (such as empowerment of women, corruption, justice, etc) would still continue to be a subject of discussions in schools, colleges, academic institutions, etc but all doors of rescue have been already shut. Being apprehensive I believe that with the passing time, Indian hockey is slowly heading towards it
Disclaimer: The above comments are solely my thoughts and do not intend to cause any harm/offence to individuals.