If one looked at Australia, it would become immediately evident that the big nation takes its sports very seriously. They try excelling in whatever they do in the sports front. With 2015 ICC cricket World Cup beginning in several venues in less than two weeks’ time, the host nation is among the top teams if one also counted South Africa and New Zealand. They are feared in men’s and women’s hockey, they have world class football and rugby teams, great tradition in tennis, swimming and athletics. In the last 25 years, they have taken the hockey glory from the Indian sub-continent, where India and Pakistan together ruled world hockey. But not anymore; even India and Pakistan take lessons from Australia and prefer Australian hockey coaches. One very strong reason is the management of sports in Australia. For them, every sport is equally important and sportspersons are encouraged to play the games of their choice. Promising talents are groomed and given financial support. Commerce has a big role in world sports these days and no sporting activity can survive without business promoters, who use the opportunities as win-win situations. Unlike in India and other nations of the sub-continent, people elsewhere are not cricket crazy. If you think the people have become the slaves of this single sport on their own, then you are wrong. This has been brought about by sustained and selfish business interests that saw it fit to bombard every Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan home with overdose of cricket to reap business profits for themselves. In India and Pakistan, big cricketers are no less than film stars in glamor and societal status. The net result of glorifying cricket has pushed other sports like football, hockey, tennis, badminton and athletics on the edge of oblivion.
Lately however, things have shown a change. The same commercial houses are now trying to rejuvenate football, badminton, tennis and hockey by pumping business money into these neglected sports. We have seen a successful first season for Hero-sponsored Indian Super League football, promotion of tennis by some groups and formation of Indian Badminton League. But promotion of hockey deserves the biggest applauds. The game has been India’s national sport for decades but only for name. The decline of Indian hockey over the decades has been debilitating and from global glory to Olympic disqualification, Indian hockey has faced all ignominies. Now however, there is a ray of hope as HeroMoto Corp has continued to lend its support to Indian Hockey. With the promise of lifting the wretchedness of hockey players, HeroMoto Corp has backed the sport unflinchingly for the past few years. The stars have not been found wanting as they have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The performance of India’s hockey team in the last 6 months has been extremely impressive and to a large extent, it can be attributed to the financial support to the players. They may still not match the wealth of India’s cricket stars, but it would certainly not be like the old times, when no one bothered about them. The Hero Group deserves to be commended on its single-minded zeal in coming to the rescue of hockey in India.
The company, who began their business by manufacturing bicycles, has grown multi-fold in the last few decades. Their main product now is the two-wheeled motor-bike, which has emerged as a symbol of youthful exuberance in just 20 years. Ever since Bajaj scooters lost their exalted status as world leaders in scooters, the phenomenal ascendency in changing riding preferences has benefitted the Hero Group. Even Bajaj has scrapped its scooter-manufacturing line and taken to producing the bikes. But Hero is a the undisputed leader. In the last couple of years, Hero MotoCorp has expanded its global footprints. Various models of Hero motor-bikes have traditionally attracted buyers in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Turkey and Egypt in Asia. Now they have become equally popular in Latin America, Central America and Africa. These two-wheelers can easily be seen on roads of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Congo and Angola. The company also has plans to launch its operations in Europe by 2015 and in the US by 2016. Their new manufacturing plant in Colombia is fast nearing completion. Spread over 17 acres of land at Parque Sur Free Trade Zone in Vila Rica, the plant will roll out its first bike by the middle of 2015. The initial installed capacity of 78,000 units will then be upgraded to produce 150,000 units by 2017-18.
The HeroMoto Corp-sponsored third Hockey India League has already got underway on January 22, 2015 with the six participating teams from Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Mohali and Ranchi. 14 out of 30 matches in the double round-robin league are already over and the tournament will go to the Knock-out phase after the last league match on February 19. Until now, Jaypee Punjab Warriors lead the points table with 4 wins from 5 matches. Behind Punjab are UP Wizards, Ranchi Rays, Delhi Waveriders, Kalinga Lancers and Dabang Mumbai. This year’s knock-out games will be played in Delhi with the final scheduled for February 22, 2015.