Broke India ice hockey team turns to Twitter for support

Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:37am EDT
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By Sudipto Ganguly

MUMBAI (Reuters) - While India's cricket league lavishes million-dollar deals on players for just a few weeks of competition, the national ice hockey team has had to go begging on social media to fund its trip to Kuwait for an international tournament.

Players often have to buy their own equipment and look for their own sources to fund trips abroad, a situation which prompted the Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI) to start a campaign on Twitter seeking donations.

"It is so tough to push sports like ice hockey when cricket takes up all sponsor budgets. We have a national team and are begging for money," read a tweet from the association last month.

While the country's cricket board generates riches through lucrative television deals and sponsorship, other sports rely largely on government funds and rare corporate handouts for support.

Ice hockey does not get even that.

The team needs about 2 million rupees ($32,170) to travel to Kuwait for the International Ice Hockey Federation Challenge Cup of Asia Division I from April 18-24.

The Twitter campaign with the hashtag "SupportIceHockey" has seen more than half the amount raised in the last week.

Harjinder Singh, general secretary of IHAI, told Reuters that the decision to turn to social media for funding was a reflection on ice hockey's lowly status in India.   Continued...