The two-horse race to become world hockey’s next president enters its final straight when the FIH Congress takes place this weekend.
Marc Coudron, the former Belgium international and ex president of the Royal Belgian Hockey Association, goes up against Tayyab Ikram, the chief executive of the Asian Hockey Federation who has been an FIH executive board member since 2016.
Why’s the presidency up for grabs?
The Congress will be held remotely and the new president voted will take over from Narinder Batra, who resigned from the role over personal reasons earlier this year.
Batra beat Coudron by two votes in last year’s election. The winner this weekend will serve for two years, which will complete the mandate of Batra. His tenure had already been shortened due to Covid.
More transparency and, in the short term, instill a sound financial ground are the foundations around the Belgian’s candidacy.
In both elections, Coudron, who is also a private banker, has also put the future threat of water-based pitches at the forefront and the need to change and put pressure on manufacturers on non-water pitches.
As he said in a recent interview, if elected, he will also “not be surrounded by yes-men and yes-woman, but to be surrounded by challengers and people who are there to say ‘Marc, I don’t agree with you’.”
The Pakistan-born sports administrator has worked with the likes of Formula Three, the Beach Volleyball World Tour as well as the International Olympic Committee on multiple Games. He also worked on delivering hockey at the Tokyo Games for several years.
His mandate is to bring top level hockey to smaller nations so that they are not isolated. “Athletes come first, it is not just a slogan,” he has said, with his aim for players to have a development path after their careers end.
“We have the challenge of presenting our sport, broadcasting, and satisfying commercial partners better,” he told Insidethegames this summer.
“So the FIH is in this cycle but I want to go out of it and try to create some resources, develop some partnerships, and try to create synergy among different stakeholders.”