Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Contesting for the second term Narinder Batra was re-elected as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) President as he pipped Marc Coudron of Belgium by razor thin margin of two votes at the world body’s virtual 47th Congress on Saturday.
Batra received 63 votes as against Coudron’s 61 in a straight contest during the online voting process, in which 124 out of 136 member associations participated.
In the process he became the first Indian to be elected as President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for the second consecutive term
In 2016, Batra who was then an Executive Board Member of FIH as well as the Vice-President of the Asian Hockey Federation, became the first Indian and first non-European to head a global sports governing body when he replaced outgoing FIH President Leandro Negre, for a four-year term. With this re election he will to serve as President of FIH till 2024.
Batra was considered favourite because India is scheduled to host Junior and Senior World Cups but such a nerve wrecking finished surprised every one.
The 47th Congress was to be held last year in New Delhi but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Batra, under his leadership in the first term prioritized the growth of hockey globally also achieved key milestones such as implementation of the FIH’s global home-and-away league – The FIH Pro League, launched the FIH Nations Cup, and implemented the FIH Hockey 5s World Cup and Hockey 5s World Tour.
With over two decades of experience in sports administration, he has led FIH with professional administrative acumen that delivered efficient governance and also created a transparent system.
In his second term, Batra in his election manifest committed to continue to work towards increasing the number of hockey playing nations as well as the visibility of hockey. Enhancing financial sustainability, to innovate, and improve the Olympic status of the sport and harmonise the international calendar of events are some of his key agendas paving forward.
In his address through a virtual conference during the FIH Congress, Batra said: “My no. 1 priority is to grow the sport globally and to do that we need to constantly evolve with new formats and events. Provide the right kind of training and infrastructure to create a holistic ecosystem which is sustainable. And while we develop and grow our hockey universe it is also essential to increase our visibility and reach. We need to keep up with an extremely dynamic landscape of mediums to reach and engage better with our fans. And equally so reach new audiences we have found in countries across the American and African sub-continents, among others.”
“We need to enhance our financial stability. A well-developed revenue model from media rights holders and commercial partners is the key to achieve sustainable financial growth. I have seen keen interest in further engagement from Indian commercial partners which I will continue to work with closely to channelise into global events and development initiatives.” he added
Congratulating Batra on his re election , Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said, “Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra in his first term led the hockey fraternity into a new era with innovative formats and tournaments that would further enhance the popularity of the sport particularly among the younger generation.
“He is a man on a mission to globalise hockey and we congratulate him and wish him the very best as he endeavours to achieve new milestones as President of FIH in his second consecutive term. It is a proud moment for India. We will continue to seek his guidance and learn from his experience to further develop the sport in India.”