Chandigarh: The inaugural World Series Hockey got the backing of Sports Ministry although the league has lost star Indian players due to a threat of ban from the FIH.
FIH had said that it does not recognize the league and anyone who would play in the unsanctioned league, would be banned.
WSH is an initiative of Indian Hockey Federation and Nimbus Sport, while FIH recognise only Hockey India (HI) as the recognised body of the game in the country. Star Indian players Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh have decided against participating in the league, having agreed earlier.
"I congratulate the World Series Hockey and the Indian Hockey Federation for daring to dream and conducting such a grand hockey feast for the people of India and hockey players of the world," Sports Minister Ajay Maken said in his video message, beamed during the Opening Ceremony at the Sector-42 Stadium here.
"We may have lost ground for some time but that`s part and parcel of sports and life. The good news is that hockey is regaining ground and I’m very happy that the World Series Hockey is being held in India," Maken said.
"It gives me great pride to see as many as 8 world-class floodlight hockey stadiums in 8 cities across India are being used for the WSH. As India`s Sports Minister it gives me great pride to announce that we are launching the first of its kind, a global league for the sport of hockey."
The league began today and will conclude on April 2.