New FIH president pledges waterless hockey pitches
The world governing body is already experimenting with turfs that need far less watering with target to achieve waterless pitches at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
Minutes after being elected as the new international hockey federation (FIH) president, Tayyab Ikram on Saturday announced that the global body will shift to waterless pitches at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
At its 46th Congress here in 2018, FIH had decided that 2024 onwards it would bring in a new pitch that barely uses water, unlike the current synthetic turfs that need lot of watering to control the pace of the ball. It didn’t want hockey to be seen as “wasting water”. To push its sustainability strategy, FIH has been working with turf makers.
The inaugural Hockey5s tournament on June 4-5 was held on a pitch that did not need water. FIH plans to hold the first Hockey5s World Cup in Muscat, Oman in January 2024 on a waterless surface.
“It (LA 2028) is the target. It is a challenge (FIH CEO) Thierry (Weil) embraced when he came on board in 2018. We were not believing in this but he was persistent. It is complicated, technology-wise. We already used 40% less water in Tokyo 2020 than in Rio 2016. It is in a developmental phase,” said Ikram, who is also the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) CEO.
Weil and Ikram said they plan to introduce waterless or less water consuming pitches in the 2024 Pro League and the 2026 World Cup in Belgium and Netherlands, which will help get the feedback on whether to use the new surfaces at the LA Games.
“We have tested it many times in different conditions with the feedback of the players. We had rain in Lausanne as well which demonstrated it was not slippery. It worked well. There are small details which need to be adapted but the players are amazed about the surface. From now every Hockey5 tournament will be played on this surface. Step by step we will start introducing in 11-a-side as well,” said Weil.
FIH’s global partner Polytan has announced that the 2024 Paris Olympics tournament will be played on hockey’s first carbon zero turf called Poligras Paris GT zero.
Ikram beats Coudron
Macau’s Ikram was elected president at the 48th FIH Congress held virtually. He received 79 of the 126 votes submitted by members, getting the required absolute majority of more than half the votes. His only opponent, Belgium’s Marc Coudron, received 47 votes.
It will be only a two-year term, to complete the mandate of previous president Narinder Batra, who resigned on July 18 after his appointment was annulled by the Delhi high court.
Maureen Craig-Rousseau and Elizabeth Safoa King were re-elected to the FIH Executive Board (EB) while Hiroya Anzai, Piotr Wilkonski and Deon Morgan were elected as FIH executive board members. The term of office of Deon Morgan will be of two years, to take over the remaining two years of Tayyab Ikram’s term. The mandates of the other EB members who were elected or re-elected on Saturday will run until the 2026 FIH Congress.
Hockey India CEO Elena Norman was named one of the seven recipients of the FIH President’s Award for “playing an outstanding role in the promotion and development of hockey in India as well as around the globe through the numerous world events which the country has been hosting”.