What new does the 2016 Hockey India League offer rules-wise?
The Hockey India League (HIL) has spent three successful seasons and as Hockey India – the apex body running the much-hyped league in the country – gird its loins to stage the fourth edition of the Coal India Hockey India League, one feels that the slew of rule changes will lend spice and excitement to the league, considered one of the most popular hockey leagues in the world.
The biggest and most significant rule change has been the organiser’s high focus on seeing all teams churn out more ‘field goals’ as generally it was seen that all teams were more keen to manufacture penalty corners when they are inside the opposition ‘D’ instead of seeking to penetrate the defence and score.
Trying to play the ball on the foot of a defender was seen as the easiest way to engineer a short corner and such an attitude was killing the sheer joy of seeing the breathtaking field goals.
The new rule stipulates that two points will be awarded for every field goal and one point for every penalty corner goal, which will prompt some serious thinking among all franchises to go all out in pursuit of field goals.
What’s more, the organisers of the HIL also want to instil a fair amount of discipline among teams and keeping this in mind, they have put a rule in place, which states that a penalty stroke goal will be awarded two points.
But the fact that the powers-that-be are determined to see the end of strikers only to create short corners can be seen from the fact that penalty stroke goals resulting from penalty corners will be awarded one point. In the case of a shootout, one point will be awarded for every conversion, which perfectly makes sense. “I think this is a big step to encourage more field goals. The tendency of teams to rely heavily on short corners will be nipped in the bud,” says a former hockey coach.
The new goal-scoring system is approved by the FIH Competitions Committee and Rules Committee.
Another interesting feature of the 2016 HIL is that the organisers have decided to do something about the pool of players of each franchise. The 4th edition will see each franchise have a squad of 20 players with 12 Indian players and eight foreign players unlike earlier when franchises had a pool of 24 players with 10 Indian players and 10 foreign players.
“Having more foreign players obviously means that a lot of local talent will get wasted despite being in the team. 10:10 for Indian and foreign players is a good thing for the future and gradually we can cut down on the number of overseas players and blood more local players,” the former coach adds.
The new rules also state that each franchise must have a minimum two goalkeepers sitting on the bench and all 20 players will be mentioned in the match sheet and must be seated in the team’s dug-out during the matches.
Let’s hope that the 2016 HIL witnesses more field goals than ever before and short corner goals take a backseat.