Mumbai: Dismissing threats of a possible ban by Hockey India on local players participating in the World Series Hockey (WSH), the organisers of the multi-million dollar tournament today said that all those who have signed up will certainly play in the upcoming event.
"I am extremely happy to say that all Indian players who have signed up for the WSH will 100 per cent play in the event," said Yannick Colaco, chief operating officer of Nimbus Sports, which has floated the League in association with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).
IHF, headed by R K Shetty, is not recognised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) which has given affiliation to rival body Hockey India and has declared WSH as an unsanctioned tournament.
Colaco, after the announcement of the players draft on Monday, said WSH`s dates were scheduled as an ideal preparation for the national team ahead of next year`s Olympic qualifiers in Delhi.
"As per the dates announced earlier the camp for the pre-Olympic qualifiers was to start on January 24 and WSH ends on January 22. We had fixed the dates to prepare the Indian team for the Olympic qualifiers," he said.
Asked about the reported threat of Pakistan Hockey Federation to stop its players from taking part in the WSH, Colaco said, "We have not received any letter from the PHF till yesterday."
"All the players who have signed up are going to play. In fact, the government has cleared their visas. Three off them are arriving on December 1 and the rest on December 5," he added.
Former India coach Jose Brasa said that pressure has been put on the national bodies by the FIH to change their statutes so as to force the players to seek green signal from the federations of their respective countries if they wanted to play in tournaments overseas.
"The FIH has sent a letter to the national federations to change their statute and allow players to take part in events overseas only after getting their permission," said Brasa, the coach of the Chennai franchise in the eight-team WSH.
"This is a clear move to prevent our players from playing in WSH. I have lodged a complaint against this directive in my country - Spain - with the body overseeing the national federations, similar to SAI here. I have asked it not to allow the Spanish hockey federation to change its statute," he added.
Goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza, who attended the player draft as captain of the Mumbai franchise along with Prabhjot Singh who is to lead Punjab, refused to comment about Hockey India's proposed national camp during the WSH.
"I don't want to talk about the camp. Please ask me about WSH," he said point blank.
Former international Mervyn Fernandes, manager of Pune, said WSH would benefit the Indian players immensely.
"By playing in WSH with foreign players, the Indians would learn the art of receiving the ball when confronted with man-to-man marking. If we can do it it will improve our hockey," said the one-time ace inside forward.
Another ex-international Jude Felix, coach of Karnataka franchise, said playing in WSH would be beneficial to the Indian players ahead of next year's Olympic qualifiers.
"Hockey is a poor man's sport. Players would get the kind of money which they have never got before. All the more reason for them to play in WSH before the qualifiers," he said.