The revolution continues
India’s Batra hopes to expand the global reach of field hockey
The election of India’s Narinder Batra as the new president of the Federation International Hockey (FIH) was very much in tune with the sport’s new revolution.
After becoming the first Indian and first Asian to head up the Olympic sport’s international governing body at a ceremony in Dubai, Batra has been tasked with increasing the number of national associations to 152 by 2024.
Having recently added five new members – Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Nicaragua and Swaziland – Batra will aim to bring the sport to a new audience.
Already the president of Hockey India, he was able to bring hockey back to the masses through his brainchild – the Hockey India League.
Under his leadership, Hockey India’s annual revenue grew from $500,000 to more than $16 million over the past eight years.
And Batra stressed that the only way the sport could compete with the likes of football and cricket was by increasing revenues and engagement with the fans and viewers via TV, and more importantly social media.
“Hockey is my passion and it is in my blood,” said Batra “We are one big hockey family.
“But for hockey to grow we have to expand the boundaries. “We have a good lot of 12-14 countries now and we have to expand it to about 25-30. “We must concentrate on increasing viewership and also focus on social media and other mediums to expand the scope of the game.” Batra added that the administrative structure of FIH was ideal and had everything in place to allow its strategies to be implemented successfully. “Hockey [FIH] is a well-oiled machine,” he said.
“My main aim will be to bring in more revenue and increase the reach.
“I don’t have to sit in the office and tell people what to do, in fact they will be telling me what to do.”
Batra also spoke about the new home and away format of games and addressed the touchy issue of teams playing in Pakistan.
Pakistan Hockey have had to choose neutral venues in order to play home games, with nations boycotting the county after the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.
The cricket team have played their home fixtures in Dubai, where the FIH are opening an international office, but Batra refused to indicate where Pakistan would play home games in the future.
He added: “It’s up to them to chose the venue, I can’t pinpoint one.”