ADDRESSING THE INDIAN MEDIA on returning after his historic win at the FIH Presidential Elections, Hockey India President and the 15th FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra spoke for the first time today on what it means to take on this mantle. Dr Batra, who has previously served as an Executive Board Member of FIH as well as Vice-President of the Asian Hockey Federation, will replace outgoing FIH President Leandro Negre, for a four-year term.
Addressing the media, an elated Dr Batra said,
“I feel extremely honoured and I look forward to lead the FIH global hockey revolution.”
The win was emphatic as Dr Batra secured 68 votes out of 118 to go past tough opponents in Australia's Ken Read and Ireland's David Balbirnie, the two other candidates for the FIH Presidency at the Congress. This is the first time an Indian has been elected to head a global sports governing body of an Olympic sport. Dr Batra will also be the first Indian to take on the role as FIH Chief.
Dr Batra, who has under his leadership managed to bring about an uprising in Indian hockey with significant changes in terms of player management, creating a transparent system for efficient governing, monitory benefits for players and revenue generation, insisted that his priority in the new role of FIH chief will be to increase the number of hockey playing nations in the world. and women.
"We ought to have more than 12-14 teams vying for a spot in the Olympics. 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. He further added that among his ambitious projects, as the FIH President will be to take the game global. China, India and USA would be the driving force for the world’s economy.”
Dr Batra believes that hockey in the sporting calendar needs a big boost in order to truly bring about a revolution. “It is my firm belief that this innovation will lead to better commerce for hockey," stated Dr Batra who was awarded the prestigious FIH Presidents Award in 2014 for his contribution in developing hockey at the grassroots.
Dr Batra has always prioritised player development.
“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," he added.
Dr Batra’s brainchild, the Coal India Hockey India League, which has completed four successful seasons since its inception in 2013, is the biggest hockey league in the world at present. The effort put in by Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra as the Hockey India President has yielded results for the Indian hockey team and they are now among the top six sides in the world. Having successfully hosted several international FIH events, Dr Batra's experience is expected to hold him in good stead as FIH President.
To professionalize the governing body in India and form it more in line with the international federation, Dr Batra also led a reform by making a lean executive board. The number of members on the board was brought down to 11 from 17 during the last Congress held in September 2016. This included three Office Bearers in President, Secretary General and Treasurer. Even the nominated board earlier had 10 members was has been brought down to six. The CEO is a Member of the Executive Board with voting rights.
As to the challenges he looked to tackle right away as FIH President, Dr Batra said increasing global television and digital footprint is the way forward.
“We need to ensure that we strike the right balance between using digital platforms for promotional purposes and rely on television for reach and revenue growth.”
The path is paved for Hockey India President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra to lead the worldwide hockey fraternity into a new era that will truly bring about a revolution in the game that we have known for so long. It is a proud moment for India, one that will be remembered for a long time to come.