Hockey India president Narinder Batra was elected president of the international hockey federation (FIH) in Dubai on Saturday. He beat David Brinie of Ireland and Ken Read of Australia in a three-man race.
Batra, who became the president of Hockey India in October 2014 after serving as secretary, had criss-crossed the globe to seek votes in the last few weeks.
Batra is the first Asian to become the chief of the sport, thus breaking the monopoly of Europeans who have been ruling international hockey for decades.
Batra succeeds Spaniard Leandro Negre, who was the FIH chief since 2008. Negre had defeated Netherlands’ veteran hockey administrator Els van Breda Vriesman to become FIH supremo.
Batra joins a select band of Indian sports administrators who have led world bodies, notable among them being International Cricket Council (ICC) president Jagmohan Dalmiya and Sharad Pawar.
N Srinivasan became the first-ever ICC chairman and Shashank Manohar, who succeeded him, became the first elected chairman of the world cricket body.
Others who have headed world bodies include N Ramachandran, the world squash body chief, and Janardhan Singh Gehlot, the founder president of International Kabaddi Federation.
Sharing his vision, Batra said, “I have plans of bringing a revolution in the world of hockey. I want to generate passion among people so that hockey becomes as popular as soccer. Right now there are 12-14 nations competing for the World Cup or Olympics. The number should double in the coming months.”
“More the people wield the hockey stick, it will generate more revenue. The funds will help FIH make hockey more popular across the globe,” he said.
On Indian hockey, he remarked, “There is no need to worry on the home front. Things are fine.”