Monday, 26 September 2011

What can WSH learn from EPL & other European leagues

The hockey lovers in India are really excited about WSH. According to many this is the right step in reviving Hockey in India which over years has taken a beating in front of other sports like Cricket, Tennis, Football and modern sports like F1. There was a time when the Hockey matches were passionately followed but now even India's biggest newspaper covers it under Other Sports while it covers NBA in the main page!!!!

With almost all decks cleared for WSH, and it happening this December, what are the steps that WSH can take to ensure that it does not got the PHL way. The answer to that question lies at the same place where the Indian leagues both IPL & WSH looked to when they designed themselves i.e. the EPL.

Now the question comes what can WSH learn from EPL and various other league. Lets look at what strength employs and how it can be used

1. English and used for it's advantage
The EPL takes huge advantage of the it being from England and uses this connection in the Anglophone world. Similarly WSH can use to its advantage the huge diaspora all around the world and ensure it goes global through them.

2. Aggression v  Technical v Tactical
All the global sporting league's rely on any one of the trait. You rely too much on one then it becomes a drag and mix them, you get success. However of all the 3 using Aggression the most helps to get the youngsters which becomes the backbone. This is true for EPL. Similarly in USA NFL is most popular of big 4 because it uses a lot of Aggression along with being Tactical and Technical too. Baseball which is too Technical with little bit Tactical is now amongst the laggard in big 4 US games. Similarly Bundesliga which has more Technical playing angle is also behind other Football league
Hockey is a highly Technical game. WSH should ensure that Aggression as well as Tactical stuff if put into it to make it complete fun for viewers

3. Matches on Weekend
IPL is played daily with 74 matches. It bored you. You will not want to watch every team play. Like I just want to KXIP and not KKR. EPL efficiently places on weekend with the biggies not clashing with each other. The players are released if required for international commitments. This ensures local viewers can enjoy their games at the right place, in the Stadium
WSH may not be able to do it initially but over time they should put in more matches but on Weekend only

4. League goes on but does not burden you
The beauty of EPL scheduling is that even though it has 380 matches in a season it does not burden you, why because you get to see your favorite team play 38 times. And with matches over the weekend over various months you have the excitement but not burdened by it

Somehow WSH has also to ensure that it does not over do it. Presently with 61 matches over 45 days seems a little dragged. Over time I hope they ensure that they balance the scheduling

5. Local support and tradition
The EPL and other European clubs have been formed on long traditions. WSH though cannot do that overnight but surely would like to be associated with the locals. The ways for this should be some visible local players, roping in local hockey clubs, linking themselves with the local traditions or roping the local stars of any field. This will help the WSH to form an unmovable base of support

6. Good junior Programs
This is one area where EPL lacks but surely other Europeans clubs specially Spanish, Italian and German clubs are very good. They have very good junior programs and which help them to produce future stars, bring in talent at very low cost, and through them garner local supports. Through sponsorship programs the young talent must be tapped

7. Timing of Broadcasts
The timings of Broadcast is very critical if WSH has really a dream of becoming "World" Series Hockey rather than staying in India. The EPL broadcast are set in a way that they are enjoyed in UK along with wide support network in Africa and Asia. As the matches are on Weekend, setting them towards evening or late night are taken very well by the fans. Similarly in the long term WSH should try to balance out the various time differences and reach primary Hockey markets of Asia, Oceania and Europe.

8. Global Players and brand names
This is a aspect that makes EPL attractive to so many nations. A star of a local country be it in Africa or America is signed by European league and then in return pulls in the viewership of the locals of that country for EPL. WSH has brought in some stars but should look for some bigger names of Netherlands, Germany, Australia or Spain. This will help it improve the quality of league, more interest locally and more interest globally

9. Global expertize of the commentary panel. 
Finally last but not the least, have you ever seen the level of commentators on ESPN be it cricket or EPL. This is why people love to watch ESPN. This really matters. A good match can be spoiled by a bad commentary. It is not stars that are required but the better, sensible and level headed commentators. WSH can bring in good commentators from other sports as well like Harsha Bhogle etc. This factor will really help projecting WSH in a big way.

PS:-This blog could not have written without the help of my friend Ambujesh Yadav an ardent athlete, a real sports and Man U fan.


  1. Thanks for the credit :)
    Nicely written..
    one point i would like to add WSH has a huge advantage regarding timings. Due to heat in this part of country the matches will be played at night, which means the matches will be at "right time" for broadcasting in european countries
    i hope WSH revives cricket in INDIA :)

  2. Ambujesh:- Revives Hockey and not cricket. Cricket is already very much revived :)