(Last Updated on : 22-07-2014)
The Premier Hockey League (PHL) is the newest feature of India Hockey that has brought a sea change in the entire scenario of Indian Hockey. The PHL came into existence in the year 2005 with a view to bring professionalism in Indian Hockey, and was held until 2008. The league started its journey with 5 teams named as Bangalore Hi-Fliers, Chennai Veerans, Hyderabad Sultans, Maratha Warriors and Sher-e-Jalandhar. Another 2 teams named Chandigarh Dynamos, and Orissa Steelers were added later. Another objective behind starting the league was to revive interest in the sport, which was losing spectator interest to cricket in recent times. The PHL is also attempting to bring a regional flavour to Indian hockey, by fielding teams from the traditional Hockey bastions like Mumbai, Punjab, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
History of Premiere Hockey League
First organised by the IHF in 2005, the format received support from prominent sports channel, ESPN. The first season of the tournament had two tiers of division 1 and division 2. From 2007 season, the tournament organisers scrapped the division 2 and all teams, except the winner of 2006 division 2 Championship title, were scrapped. The Hyderabad Sultans team was the winner of first PHL and the latest edition of the tournament was won by the Bangalore Hi-fliers team.
Format of Premiere Hockey League
The tournament is held regularly between the months of December and January. However, the format of the league has seen a lot of variation from the inaugural season till last season. According to the format of the last season, each team plays each other once in a round robin format (21 matches), during the course of regular league season. After that, the top 4 teams play 2 semifinals (1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3) and the Champions are decided through a best of three finals. There are a few rules and regulations for a team to earn points during a PHL match. The team can earn 3 points if it wins the match directly. In case the match goes into extra time, the winner of the match gets 2 points and the loser earns 1 point. However, if no winner can be decided even after completion of a match and two periods of extra time, the match officials decide the winner by a shoot-out competition.
Rules and regulations in Premiere Hockey League
According to the rules and regulations of the Premier Hockey League (PHL), each team shall consist of maximum of 18 (eighteen) players to be registered. A maximum of 3 players can be of foreign origin; out of the above 18 players and a minimum of 2 players of foreign origin shall be within the field of play, at any given point of time during the course of a game. The teams are required to register all the eighteen players with the PHDPL. The players are also required to submit their identity cards before the start of the league, in order to qualify for playing in a team. The Indian players playing in the tournament are required to be taken on lien for the duration of the league and then be registered with PHDPL. On the other hand, all the foreign players are bound to obtain international transfer certificates from their respective countries and or clubs before signing up with the team and PHDPL.
The Premier Hockey League (PHL) has introduced some new features to the game of Hockey that differ from the traditional format of Hockey. The main change has been done in the number of sessions. Normally, a 70 minute hockey game includes two sessions, each of 35 minutes each. In PHL, there are four sessions, each of 17.5 minutes. This format has been introduced with a view to include more advertising time, for generating funds. Apart from four sessions, the teams have also been allowed to take time-outs to chalk out new strategies during the course of the game.
Another new feature of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) is that, the match officials gradually reduce the number of players of each team till a result is obtained, in case the match remains draw after full-time. Each team playing the PHL has also been allowed to field up to five international players in a match. The organisers of PHL have introduced the penalty shootout competition that has similarity to that of the Major League Soccer. Each team has five penalty shoot outs where 5 players play a one on one with the goal keeper of the opponent team.
It is agreed that the PHL was able to bring greater recognition the sport of hockey, though its greater impact can only be seen gradually over time.