Television

Boost for PHL, ING Vysya Life to sponsor Bangalore Lions hockey team

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BANGALORE: Show me the money! It may not be much just yet, but the signs are certainly encouraging for ESPN Star Sports' Indian hockey initiative. In a joint statement, ESS, fledgling private Life Insurance company ING Vysya Life and the Karnataka State Hockey Association (KSHA) announced today that ING would sponsor the Bangalore team in Premier Hockey League (PHL) from the 2006 season onwards.

The Bangalore Hi-Fliers has now been rechristened as Bangalore Lions. In addition, ING has also signed on as the official life insurer of the Premier Hockey League. All the participating Indian players (in Tier I & II) will be provided with a life insurance cover of Rs 500,000 each.

Further, ING will be awarding the "Lion of the day" to each man of the match for Tier I and Tier II games. The Tier I 'Lion of the day' will be awarded Rs 10, 000 while Tier II 'Lion of the day' will be rewarded Rs 5,000. 'Lion of the day' during the best of 3 finals will get Rs 15,000 each.

ING plans running several activities to generate enthusiasm and support for the Bangalore Lions team in Bangalore. There will be road shows and a contest to write the best slogan for the Lions as well as a chance for ING customers to go and see the team play in Chandigarh.

The Bangalore Flyers is the ING sponsored team from Bangalore, and based on the Lion in ING's logo, have been renamed as the Bangalore Lions. This team is the only team in the PHL having five national players taking part in the Champions Trophy currently going on in Chennai.

A new AV featuring Bangalore Lion captain Arjun Halappa, shot by ESPN promoting the Bangalore Lions, will be aired on ESPN as the PHL event nears. This short AV captioned 'Ek Naya Junoon' has a voice over announcing "Run and Hide if you hear a lion. The Bangalore Lions are on the prowl."

Last year Indian Hockey Federation's (IHF) entrusted the broadcasting and marketing of their annual PHL to ESPN for a period of ten years. Talking about the success of PHL, ESPN MD, R C Venkateish, said, "PHL was sampled by an impressive 19.6 million individuals in its first year. Innovations introduced in the game were appreciated by the hockey fraternity in India and worldwide Thanks to PHL's success in the first year, we have experienced greater readiness amongst foreign players to participate in PHL 2006. 11 foreign players have already confirmed and more will be announced in the very near future. We will continue to innovate to ensure that PHL becomes the most important hockey league in the world."

IHF have already announced important changes in the format of PHL 06. The changes have been made after a detailed analysis of the inaugural league, which was held at Hyderabad from January 13, 2005 till February 13, 2005. The most notable change is the introduction of the Third Umpire for the first time in the world of Hockey. The on-field umpires will be equipped with mobile mikes to make the game more & more involving. In addition, Tier I in PHL 06 will have a 'Best of Three Finals', unlike last year where the winner was decided after a round robin league. The top two teams from Tier I, after the round robin league, will compete in the 'Best of Three' finals.

The winner of Tier I will take home Rs 3 million, while the runners up will carry Rs 1 million. The winner of Tier II will get Rs 400,000 while the runner up will receive Rs 250,000. The manner of division of prize money between players and their respective associations shall be specified by IHF.

To ensure that more and more people are able to view the fixtures, Tier I matches will be played in the evening at 7:00 pm starting the Thursday of each week and running across on Friday, Saturday and Sunday till the end of the league. Evening viewing will lead to an increase in stadium attendance and will also make for convenient viewing for fans wanting to catch the games on television. Like last year, each game will have four quarters of 17 minutes and 30 seconds each, instead of the two halves. The winner, within the stipulated time, will get three points for each victory, while the team winning in the extra time will share the points 2:1.

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