What does it take to popularise a game in our Country in which it had once ruled the world? A simple question, but a million dollar one. Passionate fans, an officiating body with members who are honest to the game, focussed and dedicated team of organisers, 'Good Luck India' promotions, sponsors who are sincere and may be a superhit film with Shahrukh Khan in the lead.
Good Luck India', is a signature movement by a Corporate House that seeks to flag off Team India's World Cup Hockey campaign in the right track. Hockey as India's national sport has been in a state of general decline for a while now. Hockey players in our country do not receive the kind of support and fan following that is common in other parts of the world. Neither does it match the favour that sportsperson in other fields, cricket mainly, receive.
Viewed in this context, a lot really hinges on the fate of the 12-nation Hero Honda FIH World Cup starting at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi from February 28. The participating countries are: Pakistan, India, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, England, Argentina and Canada.
South Africa will take on Spain in the opening match next Monday while hosts and 1975 champions India are to start their campaign by playing the last match on Day One against arch-rivals and four-time winners Pakistan.
Let us hope that it will be a full house at the majestic Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium when Indian hockey team take on archrivals Pakistan under floodlights on the first day of the Hero Honda World Cup on Sunday. The vibes seem to be correct, as organisers have put up a 'sold out' sign in front of ticket counters.
Germany are the current holders and a win in New Delhi will see them become the first side to win the trophy for the third consecutive time. They are looking to prove themselves worthy of being ranked No 1 in the world after missing out on the European title and the Champions Trophy last year. England finished fifth in 2006 but as reigning European champions have targeted a semi-final berth in India. Champions Trophy holders and medal winners at the last four Olympics, Australia are favourites to join Germany in the final match of the tournament.
Meanwhile security has been tightened everywhere in the face of the recent terror attacks and organisers are keeping a strict and constant tab on security measures to ensure a successful tournament.
Here's wishing India all the best. Let's have a great tournament.