After the two World Cups played in September and October, November was another busy month for the hockey family. During the first full week of November, the FIH Congress, the WorldHockey Forum ‘Synergy for Success’, Executive Board meetings and Committee meetings took place in London. In the President’s View of this WorldHockey Online, I would like to share the most important parts of my opening speech with you.
During the last two years, the FIH was able to celebrate many highlights. The first one I would like to mention is the Umpire Boost. This resulted in many new hockey umpires, the development of umpiring and at the end an increase of international umpires. I would like to thank all the National Associations who participated actively.
The second highlight is the new qualification procedure for our most important tournaments: the Olympic Games and the World Cups. First of all, this new system relieves the top hockey nations, as they will be able to qualify during the continental championships. Secondly, more countries are able to participate in the qualification tournament. Instead of one qualifying event with 12 participants, there are three tournaments with six participants for the Olympic Games. This gives extra opportunities to promote our sport in more countries as there are two more hosting countries and six more countries per gender
In the last two years we worked extremely hard to achieve that hockey will remain an Olympic sport. No sport is sure of a place in the Olympic program, as for example baseball and softball are two eliminated sports for the 2020 Olympic Games. The FIH did a difficult but successful job over the past 98 years to achieve that hockey will be one of the sports at the Olympic Games until at least 2020. In two years, at the Beijing Olympics, we will celebrate the 100 years of hockey as an Olympic sport. It is important to note that it took nearly 100 years to get 24 teams, 12 men and 12 women teams, at the Olympics. In Beijing we will finally have a ‘full house’
In terms of television, the FIH has lived up to your expectations and hockey is viewed worldwide now. This is a result of the decision to sell the broadcasting rights ourselves and not through an agency. The number of countries broadcasting hockey and the number of viewers worldwide considerably increased. Both the men’s and the women’s World Cup were broadcasted in more than 150 countries worldwide.
I would like to take the opportunity to speak about participation. As mentioned during the WorldHockey Forum, participation is needed in order to achieve success. Participation is needed on all levels: not only the highest level, but also on lower level. Not only for the major hockey countries, but also for the countries in which hockey is a small sport.
Only by playing hockey in a league system on national level or at international level through at least participating in continental events, you will be successful in developing and promoting our sport. The need of a high quality artificial pitch is not the first requirement to play our sport. The first priorities are the people, athletes who play hockey and administrators who help to develop hockey.
Furthermore you need a tailor made organization according to the size of the sport in your country and an efficient infrastructure. Only with these ingredients, our sport will grow and you will get more participation.
Participation will also lead to support. Active National Associations will receive support from their National Olympic Committee, the government and sponsors. Without playing and participating, this will never be possible.
But again, without the essential ingredients: players, a national league played on a regular basis, an efficient infrastructure and participating in at least continental competitions, it will not be possible to be successful.
The Olympic Games is not an event for only the 15 top hockey nations present. Participating at the Olympic Games already starts with participating in the continental championships and the Olympic qualifiers. Participation also means a good relationship with your National Olympic Committee. It is the responsibility of the national associations to establish those relationships with the NOC and the ministry of sports in your country. Participation doesn’t only mean participation on the pitch. It also means being present in other sports structures. A good relationship with the sporting stakeholders in your country will lead to the required synergy.
Els van Breda Vriesman