Dubai: Hockey India’s current President Dr. Narinder Batra was elected as International Hockey Federation (FIH) President at the 45th FIH Congress in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, earlier today.
Dr. Batra, who’ll replace Leandro Negre as the President, is the first Indian, and even the first Asian to be elected President of an Olympic Sport’s international governing body. The out-going President Leandro Negre from Spain was awarded the title of President of Honour by the FIH last night.
Moving ahead, Dr. Batra will be tasked with leading the sport through the next phase of the FIH’s 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy. A key part of this will be the delivery of the new Event Portfolio which begins in 2019 replacing the Champions Trophy format.
Batra, who was an Executive Board Member of FIH as well as the Vice-President of the Asian Hockey Federation, received 68 votes to defeat fellow presidential candidates David Balbrinie from Ireland (29 votes) and Australia’s Ken Read (13 votes). Out of the 118 National Federations, eight National Associations abstained from voting.
Addressing the media post the announcement of his victory, an elated Dr Batra said, “I feel extremely honoured and I look forward to lead the FIH global hockey revolution.”
Dr. Batra, who has been at the heart of hockey development in India, is a highly active member of Hockey India since he took up post as Treasurer in 2009. A year later, he became Secretary General and was elected as President of the National Federation in 2014.
Speaking further about his priorities, he said, “My priority will be to widen the base and extend geographical boundaries. To popularize the sport world-wide, we need to take the sport beyond a maximum of five-six top hockey playing nations in both men and women. This will be the key in creating mass appeal globally for hockey. And I believe once we achieve this, we can also increase the revenue. We must also engage with a younger audience via various digital platforms. It is something which will take smart and strategic planning, and I look forward to the challenge.”
Dr. Batra has also worked closely with the National Olympic Committee of India and was instrumental in the Indian Olympic Association being reinstated by the International Olympic Committee in 2013-14 post a ban imposed by the apex body of Olympic Movement. Batra is also Chairman of the Hockey India League, the franchised league which is now entering its fifth season and which is doing much to raise the profile of hockey in India and the wider international hockey community.
Dr. Batra, who’s also the Chairman of the franchise based Hockey India League, further shared his vision to take the game across the Atlantic, “While China, India and USA drive the world’s economy, we also need to accept that these are potential markets for sports too and it’s important to make the sport popular in these key markets.”
Further, the winner of FIH Presidents Award in 2014, Dr Batra said, “It is my firm belief that this innovation will lead to better commerce for hockey.”
Stressing about the importance of player development across the globe, he added, “If we want to create a hockey revolution, we first need to think about our players and give them nothing but the best. They are the custodians of our future.”
With Dr. Batra elevated to the position of the FIH President, his position on the FIH Executive Board goes vacant, which will be voted on later today. His successor will take up the position for the remainder of his previous two-year term, until 2018.
The elected President, Batra, will work closely with outgoing CEO Kelly Fairweather over the next few weeks and then interim CEO David Luckes, FIH Director of Sport, before the next CEO Jason McCracken officially takes up his new role on 1 February 2017.