Domestic Hockey Spotlight
Domestic hockey tournaments often serve as a pathway for Hockey India selectors and coaches to obtain a fair assessment of new emerging talents. Most domestic hockey tournaments operate smoothly largely owing to robust government support as well as proactive initatives of ardent hockey administrators, who at at time burn a hole in their own pocket to keep a tournament going. It is indeed creditable that cash prizes for winning and runners-up teams are an attracting point for participating teams and players despite the fact that hockey is not a sport that have sponsors make a beeline for like it happens in cricket.
look at how the Madhya Pradesh government revived the Obaidullah Khan Heritage Cup in Bhopal after a six-year hiatus. The MP government offered cash prizes of Rs 11 lakh and Rs 7 lakh respectively for the winning and runners-up teams – the highest prize money offered in any domestic hockey tourney in India. The Surjit Hockey Society also deserves plaudits for consistently holding the Surjit Hockey Tournament every year save for the Covid-19 induced break. The organisers of the Surjit Hockey Tournament handed out cash prizes of Rs 5 lakh and 2 lakh respectively for the winning and runners-up teams.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament Society is another organiser of the famed Nehru Hockey Tournament in New Delhi and most recently in Hyderabad. The organisers of the Nehru Hockey Tournament offered cash prizes of Rs 4 lakh and 2 lakh respectively for the winning and runners-up teams. Even the organisers of the Chhaju Ram Memorial Hockey offered handsome cash prize money in its inaugural edition. The organisers offered cash prizes of Rs 5 lakh and 3 lakh respectively for the winning and runners-up teams.
Clearly, there is decent prize money on offer for domestic hockey tournaments but the sad part is that domestic hockey tournaments have survived the test of time only due to strong will of passionate hockey administrators. Without sounding cynical, save for a few media houses, a larg chunk of them don’t offer adequate coverage of such tournaments. This isn’t a good thing for the morale of the organisers who toil behind the scenes on a regular basis.