Batra becomes first Indian president of FIH

Narinder Batra. File photo: Rajeev Bhatt  

Narinder Dhruv Batra on Saturday became the first Indian to head the international federation of an Olympic sport after being voted president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) at the 45th FIH Congress in Dubai.

Batra polled 68 of the 118 eligible votes in the three-corner election for a near majority, defeating Ireland’s David Balbirnie (29) and Australia's Ken Read (13), both long-time FIH members.

It was the culmination of months of criss-crossing the world, garnering support for an Asian to lead the administration that has been dominated by Europeans.

While Indians have headed international federations before — N. Ramachandran was president of the World Squash Federation for two terms while several Indians have been presidents of the ICC — this is the first time an Indian has taken charge of an Olympic sport.

The election, in a way, is the culmination of Batra's ambitions of not only putting Indian hockey on the world stage on the field but also making it a power centre off it.

For long, Batra has insisted that given the popularity, financial clout and spread that Indian hockey enjoys, it should be a leader in terms of decision-making as well.

“If India helps hockey survive, it should get its due,” he had said.

Despite his almost two-decade long association with the sport as president of Jammu & Kashmir hockey, Batra first came into the spotlight in 2005 after challenging the might of K.P.S. Gill as the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) president.

He had questioned Gill's decisions, opposed his flouting of the federation constitution and sought financial auditing.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 11:04:40 PM |

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