Fans outside HIL counter at Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
On field, they may have won several battles to lift the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) trophy and clinch many a hearts in the process. But off the field, defending champions Ranchi Rhinos are struggling to keep the franchise commercially viable.
Just a day before the high octane HIL-2 is to begin in Mohali, Rhinos officials rued lack of sponsors in Jharkhand, the birthplace of stick sorcerers Jaipal Singh Munda and Sylvanus Dung Dung.
“Call it an irony or whatever you want, but the truth is we are running into huge losses due to lack of sponsors in this state,” remarked Ranchi Rhinos CEO Bunty Singh during a media interaction at Astroturf Hockey Stadium in the capital on Friday.
Ranchi Rhinos will play their first match of this season against Uttar Pradesh Wizards at its home ground in Morabadi on Sunday.
According to Singh, even after lifting the maiden title and grabbing the price money of Rs 2.5 crore, the franchise is running into losses of about Rs 14 crore.
The Rhinos CEO added that despite being one of the favoured breeding grounds of hockey talents, there were not many takers for this sport in Jharkhand.
Citing an example, Singh said, in 2014, the new franchise Kalinga Lancers have almost become a public sector undertaking (PSU) as majority of the PSUs in Odisha are sponsoring it. “They have Indian Oil, Paradip Port, ONGC, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, Odisha tourism department among others as their sponsors. In Jharkhand, we approached Central Coalfields Limited and Tata Steel, but did not receive any response,” Singh said.
German-Indian Bollywood actress Evelyn Sharma, who recently featured in Sunny Sunny song in the latest flick Yaariyan will up the glam quotient during the match in Ranchi on Sunday.
One of the giant screens at the stadium, which was reportedly not working, was made operational on Friday ahead of the performance and the Rhinos match.