By Richard Bright
Sense has prevailed once more. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. For now, the traditional 11 v 11 game will remain on the Olympic programme, International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief executive Thierry Weil confirmed on Saturday.
Ever since hockey was put up for Olympic exclusion in 2013 there have been persistent worries over the sport’s future on the Games programme.
The introduction of Hockey 5s tournaments, under the auspices of FIH, had further fuelled the fire.
But Weil admitted in New Delhi during his opening remarks at the FIH congress that 11-a-side would be staying in the Olympic family, the format would not be tinkered and there was “no risk” with the rise of the shortened format.
“It’s not that the Olympics wants to change to 5-a-side,” Weil said of the need to promote the shorter game on a global scale. “11-a-side is staying as an Olympic sport.”
Weil added that Hockey 5s would be promoted with exhibition events in 2019.
The Frenchman said: “We want to bring hockey to people. We want to increase participation and bring the sport to where people are not hockey fans and surprise as to how good our sport is.
“I am talking about bringing it to the centre of the city and for people to watch hockey.
The FIH also launched a new development strategy on Saturday – Hockey 2024 – which puts the global promotion and development of hockey at the heart of its activities.
The FIH elected four ordinary members to its executive board – two women and two men – with delegates naming Maureen Craig-Rousseau (Trinidad and Tobago), Elizabeth Safoa King (Ghana), Dr Michael Green (Germany) and Shahbaz Ahmad (Pakistan) from the nine-strong list of candidates.
Elections took place for the athletes’ committee, which consists of current and former players.
Mark Knowles (Australia), Rogier Hofman (Netherlands), Janne Müller-Wieland (Germany) and Carla Rebecchi (Argentina) were all elected by fellow athletes as regular members. David Harte (Ireland) and Camila Caram (Chile) were elected as liaison members.
They will be joined on the Athletes’ Committee by Scott Tupper (Canada), PR Sreejesh (India), Kate Richardson-Walsh (England) and Jacqueline Mwangi (Kenya), who were all recommended nominations by the Executive Board to give both gender and geographic balance.
Meanwhile, Algeria was inducted as a new FIH member.
Weil highlighted his desire for every national hockey federation to hold a world ranking. Currently, he said, there were around 50 nations with a ranking, with member nations currently standing at 138 countries.