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World hockey is looking up to India: FIH

india Updated: Feb 22, 2010 15:51 IST

International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief Leandro Negre sees India as the commercial hub of the sport and the upcoming World Cup as the launching pad for the revival of Indian hockey.

For India to become a major hockey power, Negre wants two things to happen in conjunction. One, the successful conduct of the World Cup and soon after, the Hockey India (HI) elections.

Negre confessed that ideally he would have liked to see an elected body before the World Cup but that could not happen for reasons beyond FIH and an ad hoc HI, with legal hassles coming in the way.

"As India is a key market for hockey, it will have the opportunity to host major events in the years to come. But first of all, the World Cup has to be successful and then a national governing body has to be in place," Negre said in an interview.

"For us, a fair election of Hockey India is still absolutely necessary. Unfortunately this couldn't be done before the World Cup, but we stress that this should be a priority immediately after the World Cup."

The world body is looking to open new revenue streams in India, targeting sponsors and staging more top events in the country, which was once a hockey powerhouse.

"The Indian Project of the FIH has been in place for a while and will continue for long. Our work in India doesn't stop with the World Cup.

"We hope that the World Cup will act as a catalyst for Indian hockey and that the younger generation gets attracted to the game," Negre said.

FIH's new revenue generating model is aimed at reducing the world body's dependence on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by filling its coffers before the 2016 Olympics and popular hockey destinations like India and the Netherlands will be the key centres to host the World Cup and Champions Trophy at regular intervals.

Many other international federations are also eyeing India as a major market with its growing status as a global economic power. As of now, only cricket seems to be tapping the market in a big way. For FIH to attain the same success, it will have to draw the young generation to the game and the World Cup is the first step towards that.

"Our title sponsor Hero Honda is making sure that the young generation is involved with the World Cup. Ticket sales are good and we hope it will be the best hockey event ever.

"All our partners and stakeholders are doing a great job in promoting the event. We are 99 percent ready. In the last days, the fine-tuning has to be done to make sure everything will be at the best possible level."

"We are in contact with the authorities in India, communicating on an almost daily basis with the 12 participating teams," he added.