New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Kalinga Lancers Australian recruit Tom Craig on Monday said he cannot wait to be a part of the upcoming Hockey India League (HIL) from January 21, adding he wanted to utilise the money earned at the HIL auction to pay his university fees.
Last month, Craig's 14th minute goal helped the Australian Junior team hold India 2-2 in the semi-final of the Hockey Junior World Cup in Lucknow before the hosts prevailed in a penalty shootout.
Craig's ability to counter attack is top notch and hockey lovers will get to see heroics from the lanky Australian forward.
"I remember watching on TV when the first series of HIL was played and absolutely loved it," Craig said in a statement.
"Most young Australian hockey players have plenty of interest in the HIL and I am no exception. It's such an exciting tournament and I cannot wait to be involved. India is a fantastic country and the crowds are brilliant. There's so much to look forward to."
The 21-year-old felt that the HIL has made a significant contribution to world hockey and has given international players more reason to consider hockey as a viable career option.
"That amount of money makes a massive difference to any hockey player, you'd think. Certainly, for me, I appreciate the opportunity that the HIL brings as far as professionalising the game, and this money will most likely go straight towards my university fees," said Craig, who was bought by the Lancers for a handsome $67,000.
For Craig, playing against his own teammates will be most exciting during the league.
"Every team has a wealth of unbelievable talent but I would have to say I love playing against my Australian teammates the most, so I'm looking forward to that," he said.
Ahead of a challenging season for his home team Australia, Craig feels his exposure at the HIL will mean he goes back with some valuable lessons.
"This season hopefully exposes me a bit more to the world's best players, which will be such a valuable learning opportunity. We start the season fairly hard with the international team. So a good few months in India playing good hockey will leave me sharper than what I would be without it," he said.
Joining the young Craig in the Moritz Fuerste-led Kalinga Lancers squad are Australians Glenn Turner, Matthew Dawson, Andrew Charter and Aran Zalewski.
The Lancers will begin their HIL campaign against Delhi Waveriders on January 22 at their home ground in Bhubaneswar.