The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has drawn up a strategic plan to revitalise the sport in the coming years and it includes the introduction of Hockey5s.
After the uncertainty over wrestling’s tenure in the Olympics earlier this year, the FIH has woken up to take the sport to a wider audience and make it more contemporary.
“We had some challenges this year with the (International) Olympic Committee. I can assure you that hockey is not in danger. But we need to learn that we cannot be in a siesta,” FIH President Leandro Negre told The Hindu. “We need to improve the promotional aspect of hockey. We need to approach the fans...We know we are weak in some aspects but we need to implement to prevent all these things.”Salient features
Among several initiatives taken up by the FIH, Hockey5s — which promises a faster, higher scoring, action-packed format played with five players per team on smaller pitches for shorter duration — has an important role to play as it is aimed at attracting youth and non-traditional spectators.
Negre said in the FIH’s scheme of things, India, which has been assigned some major international events in the next five years, would play a big role.
“India is the key for hockey, not only for the best of hockey in India, but for hockey all around the world. Now with new technologies, everybody looks for figures — figures in television, figures in Twitter — and only India can give that to hockey.”
Also, Hero Motors’ long-term commitment to the sport had a role in the FIH giving priority to the country. “I hope the relationship will remain forever.”Concern for India
Negre was concerned about India, one of its favourite destinations, not performing well on the pitch, but said that the country should have the patience to build its men’s team into a world-beating side.
“We understand that hockey in India is very important, because in the past you have won eight gold medals (in the Olympics).
“You are putting a lot of pressure just to win tomorrow. To build a team you need six-seven-eight, even 10 years.
“It is not only skill, but also tactics, physical and mental very much. And for me, the mental thing is the main problem. The performance of India in the Olympics was lower than what we were expecting. I was very upset about that.”
Negre said the FIH was willing to provide all possible help to lift the standard of Indian hockey.
About the ongoing tussle between two factions, Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), Negre said it was pitiful that despite FIH’s efforts one side was not willing to reach an agreement.
“Every day, every month, every year passing, the IHF is losing power. That is clear and it is not possible now to get the same demands they put on the table three or four years ago. But that is the irresponsibility,” said the FIH President.