Sardar Singh, Jamie Dywer are brand ambassadors of Hockey India League

Ace centre-half Sardar Singh and famous Australian striker Jamie Dwyer were named the brand ambassadors of the Hockey India League (HIL) on Tuesday, says a report in The Hindu, adding that the logo of the league, highlighting the blue and pink turf and yellow ball used in the London Olympics, was also unveiled at a function here.

Referring to India’s last-place finish in the Olympics, Sardar said the HIL, scheduled to start from January 5 next, would help the players improve their game.  “All the foreign players, who will participate in the HIL, are playing for their National teams. Playing alongside them will enhance our confidence and help our (National) team’s performance,” said Sardar, who was named in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) All-Star teams in 2010 and 2011.

Dwyer, a five-time FIH Player of the Year, said the league would be good for the future of Indian hockey. “I have always enjoyed playing in India.  “It is a huge step and is the right way for hockey to grow. The league is not restricted to the Indians. Players from all over the world will participate in it and the Indian players will gain from this.”

Meanwhile The Indian Express reports that rather strangely, it was a top BCCI official on the stage and a retired Australian cricketer in the front row that gave Hockey India (HI) the reassurance it needed in their biggest hour of enterprise. At the logo launch of the franchise-based Hockey India League (HIL) that kicks off next year, IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla and leg-spinner Stuart MacGill threw their weight behind venture.

The former, in his capacity as an HI adviser and latter, in his post-retirement role as the marketing man responsible for getting one of the game’s biggest names — Jamie Dwyer — to India’s franchise-based league. With India’s last-place finish at Olympics fresh in the minds and the two previous ventures on similar lines not quite having a lasting impression on the global game, HIL chairman Narinder Batra needed the support to sell the upcoming event, and its credibility, to convince the world about its longevity.

And like most speakers on the dais, and even MacGill, Batra harped on the ever-so-precious FIH sanction that the HIL enjoys. “The league will have full support of the international body. With no international action for seven days before and after the month-long event, we wouldn’t just have the best players around, but the best coaches and umpires too will be here conducting the league,” Batra said.

According to a report in The Times Of India, corporate giant India Cements, owner of Chennai Super Kings team in the Indian Premier League, is all set to make a foray into hockey now. Sources in the know said TOI late on Tuesday that the company, owned by BCCI president N Srinivasan, is close to signing a deal with Hockey India to buy the Chennai franchise of the Hockey India League (HIL) which will be played in January-February next year. The deal is likely to be finalised by the end of this week.

It has also been learnt that two other IPL team owners are in the race to buy the sixth and last hockey league franchise up for sale. "Negotiations are on with Kolkata Knight Riders' owner Shah Rukh Khan as well as Mumbai Indian owners Mukesh Ambani to buy the last franchise which in all likelihood will be Mumbai," the source said.