Desk of the president

Sydney Olympics: a great promotion for hockey

Thank you Sydney, thank you Australia. Not only was everything brilliantly organised but everyone involved seemed to enjoy what they did and that helped to make it so pleasurable for everyone else. We have had the best Olympic hockey competition ever held.

For all of us lucky enough to be there, the Sydney Olympics were, without doubt, not just the best Games ever but a sporting event that will live with us for the rest of our lives.

Hockey was truly fortunate to be able to stage their events in the Olympic Park itself. It makes a big difference when our sport takes place at heart of the Olympics Games.

I cannot remember hockey attracting such huge crowds. There was not a spare seat for the final matches and most of the time the stadium was virtually full. Our sport was watched by more than 520,000 spectators, with millions more able to see many matches on television all over the world. There could hardly have been a better promotion for our lovely sport. A lot of thank-you's are essential. We owe a debt of gratitude to Hockey Australia; to former Australian international Ron Riley, the Competitions Manager; to the officials and all involved in running the tournaments, right down to the many volunteers. Everyone of them seemed to be imbued with the right spirit.

Then there was the hockey itself. The men's tournament was one of the most open ever, with unexpected results almost daily. The outcome was in doubt until the very end.

The Dutch team must be congratulated on retaining their men's title. That Australia retained the women's title was more predictable but a great achievement. These Hockeyroos, by the quality of their play, have raised the profile of the women's game to a new level. What they have done has been a wonderful service to hockey. Their gold was the culmination of years of work by their coach Ric Charlesworth. What a long and highly successful innings he has had. Charlesworth is to retire. He will be sorely missed.

Undoubtedly the game was well served globally by the Sydney Olympics with the medals being spread round four continents. If Australia took gold and bronze for Oceania, and Netherlands gold and bronze for Europe, the Americas had their glory with Argentina' silver and the Korean men won silver for Asia.

Despite the intensity of the event, the hockey events were played in the true spirit of the game. Our thanks must go to all the teams and all their players.

Now the Games are over, we have to build on these successes. I am very happy to report that a big step forward has been taken in making the International Hockey Federation more efficient in the future. A new structure for our federation was approved at the 36th FIH Statuary Congress which was held in Paris on Saturday, November 25th 2000.

It was most fitting that this important Congress was held in Paris. It was 76 years ago that the federation was first established in the French capital. It also gave us the opportunity to join with the French Hockey Federation, one of our seven founder members, in their 80th anniversary celebrations.

The major feature of a more efficient and up to date structure of the FIH will be the merging of the Executive Board and Council.

An Extraordinary Congress will be held in Brussels on 21 April 2001 when a new Executive Board should be formed, consisting of 21 persons. I believe we have chosen a sensible way forward and we are all grateful to five members of the working group whose proposals have been accepted. That group was chaired by Tony von Ondarza and the members were Peter Cohen, Annabel Dillon, Michael Krause and Robert Watson.

It remains only for me to join with the Executive Board and the Brussels staff to wish the hockey family the world over, a A Happy and successful New Year to all.

Juan A Calzado
FIH President