Over the past few years, the Mumbai Super League has had stunted progressions with matches sometimes taking place weeks after each other. That was undoubtedly the major concern for the organisers this term. Yet, given the impeccable scheduling of this year’s tournament, relief may be one of the features in their body language.
In fact, it is the scheduling itself that has generated a great deal of praise for the Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd (MHAL) organised tournament. “That was very important for us,” says Vernon Lobo, former Air India manager and current selector of the Mumbai team. Lobo is also a part of the organising committee of this tournament and he acknowledges the importance of finishing the tournament at one go. “It helps us bring a more sensible form of hockey because teams know when they have to play and they can prepare themselves accordingly,” he adds.
Sunil Kumar Singh, head coach of finalists Western Railway believes this has helped in regaining the lost charm of Mumbai hockey. “The charm of the Super League has been propelled. A proper schedule gives teams a rhythm and even keeps the audience interested,” he says.
However, the organisers hoped to achieve more from the highest hockey division in Mumbai. “We wanted to rejuvenate the love for the sport in Mumbai,” says Anil Aldrin, organiser and former Olympian. “When we have big name players featuring in games, we tend to have a slightly larger crowd. At the moment it’s still not as much as we had hoped, but it’s definitely much better than what we had earlier.”
The Super League has also served its purpose to unearth players. “One of the advantages of having the tournament in one go is that it helps us identify talent,” says Aldrin, who also serves as a selector for the Mumbai team. “We get to monitor players better since there aren’t any month-long gaps.”
With the tournament entering the final day of its course, coaches, players and organisers alike have expressed their satisfaction for this edition of the League. “This year we managed to get a flow to our game,” says PL Murugappan, head coach of the Indian Navy. “The players enjoyed playing because the tournament pattern was not stunted.”
Given that the Super League has generally gathered a positive review, Aldrin claims that the work has just begun. “We have to look at this as a stepping stone,” he says. “We now know