Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra edged out well known Belgian Marc Coudron 63-61 to retain the President’s post of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) at the virtual Congress session on Saturday.
In 2016, when the elections were held in Dubai, Batra had won by a huge margin. That was thanks to his aggressive campaigning where he travelled to several countries and met officials of various national hockey associations.
It is a matter of pride and honour for Indian sport that Batra got re-elected. At a time when international travel has come to nought, the campaigning mode was very different this time. These elections were to be held in 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was postponed to 2021 May.
At the press conference on Saturday, Batra mentioned how he was very close to Marc Coudron and is “like a brother.” It is this camaraderie which makes Batra very popular in sporting circles. Yes, he also has his set of detractors.
There is a big challenge ahead in the next four years for the FIH President who works in tandem with CEO Thierry Weil. The financial status of the world hockey body is in “saving mode” as mentioned by Weil.
That apart, with the Covid-19 pandemic catching the world by surprise in 2020 and making it more difficult in 2021 for many countries, planning tours and the Pro League has become difficult. Weil said at the press conference: “One has to be positive and keep planning for the future and make adjustments.”
Everyone knows the world of sport has taken a hit because of the pandemic. While First World countries may be better off in economic terms, the developing countries face a big challenge to support sport. When Batra said 49 per cent of the people had not voted for him on Saturday, it was a clear admission he has to work harder .
For someone who first raised the standard of hockey, the administration and the players in India and then Asia, Batra knows in his second innings he has to take fresh guard and bat straight.