The international hockey federation (FIH) is all set to revive the flagging fortune of the discipline in the country through ‘Project India’. In coordination with Hockey India (HI), the international body has chalked out a wide-ranging strategy involving a series of FIH-run competitions beginning with the men’s Champions Trophy this year.
The FIH chief, Leandro Negre, made it clear that HI is the sole national body it recognises and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) is not in their scheme of things.
“FIH is working with HI and not with IHF,” said Negre. Along with FIH chief executive, Kelly Fairweather, Negre also met HI officials and sports minister, Ajay Maken.
The international events, said Negre, will give the Indian team a chance to rub shoulders with the best in the business. Explaining the multi-dimensional benefits of hosting major competitions, Negre said, “It will be a great opportunity for the national team to compete with global teams.”The FIH chief continued, "The four-year package is very lucrative in terms of fundraising as well as for the promotion of the game. Top players from across the globe will be seen in action and certainly, the big names of world hockey will inspire younger generations."
A professional league and an international club competition are among the other proposed events that FIH is keen to start in the country. “We are working on the right timeline to conduct the events. With all the nations focussed on the 2012 London Games, holding a mega event like a pro league needs to be slotted suitably in the calendar,” said the FIH chief.
Despite the lack of infrastructure and the national body’s not-so-efficient administration, the FIH didn’t seem worried. Negre said that FIH officials are working on that aspect to ensure a successful pro-league materialising.
“Promoting hockey in India is FIH’s global development plan. Therefore, plans proposed for India aim at taking the game to the next level,” he said. International events apart, youth development and academies at the school level would be FIH’s main focus in the country. “We want to make hockey popular among India’s youth,” he said.