From the Desk of the President
     Soon the FIH will march to another drummers beat. There will be a new president. These are my last etchings 'From the Desk of the President'

Many would expect this to be a message to be remembered either as a brilliant finale or a lecture with such a forceful message that it will be quoted again and again.

But I have no need for a soapbox, no sermon to deliver and no major concern that requires a lengthy dialogue that people will read in the years to come and say, 'Ah! Etienne did warn us'. A prophet I do not intend to be.

My retirement as president comes at a logical time. It is my decision based on my belief the time is right, as are the circumstances. I have no reason to strike up an orchestra to have my chorus echo away in my absence as president.

Instead, I wish to reflect on what has transpired during my leadership of the FIH and express my confidence for the future of hockey at all levels.

Certainly there will be significant changes to the Federation, just as there have been significant changes in my time as president. The FIH will slowly become different to the federation I have known and served, just as it changed from the one I inherited. Who inspires the change, what form this change will have and where it will unfold is a mystery only time will reveal.

Life goes on. It dictates that someone must accept the task of concluding (or continuing) what has been started by their predecessors; just as one must accept what they begin will be finished (or continued) by their successors. The baton must passed.

My retirement was flagged long ago. I said three years ago that the transition had to be made with all prepared regardless of the emotions and eagerness of an election campaign. And so I will hopefully hand over the reigns to a much younger president who will find the house in good order and a team ready to work with him.

The past three years have seen the FIH position itself for the new century with new leadership well beyond the presidency. The Federation is sound, it is well equipped, has a strong staff in place in Brussels and around the world and the books show a reasonably healthy financial Status.

The Hon. Secretary General, Els van Breda Vriesman and the Hon. Treasurer Phil Appleyard work well, and together. So too does the Executive Board that was established in 1994 under the guidelines set by the Council. There are able committees eagerly addressing their fields of concern.

The Federation has struck new partnerships outside this administrative framework and I trust all will augur well with these alliances. Reality tells me - perhaps leaves me with concern - that the demands of the modern world require quick decisions, many made without the due consideration allowed in the past. Decisions made at the break-neck speed demanded today also carry greater risk. And so errors may be made. Still I believe we have the people in place to guide the Federation through the traps that will be posed in hockeys need to keep pace with the new century.

I leave the FIH presidency proud of the reputation the Federation has build for itself and of the high respect it carries outside its boundaries, be it at the I. O. C., A. S. O. I. F., with national Olympic Committees, other International Federations and the sports authorities at both national and international levels.

We have earned that honour by our image as a clean sport with consistency in our behaviour, fairness and punctuality and a strong and fair hand in the management of our sport. We have not manufactured this image. We have earned it by a genuine approach to our tasks and ambitions. It would be sad to lose this respect by becoming a cheap replica of sporting bodies who draw attention to themselves, often with controversy, with bright lights, much tinsel and glossy wrapping.

In contrast, the FIH has avoided these trappings to preserve unity, which is our strength and guardian. We have achieved this quality through mutual recognition and tolerance between individuals, member associations and continental federations. This is the hockey family to which I have often referred.

It may seem a 'Vérité de la Pallice' but to remain united means we remain together, with the fast runners waiting for the slower ones and helping them to keep pace with the bunch so that the big and small respect each other and avoid disputes which would destroy others.

For those who expected my words to be filled with brimstone, or controversy or great enlightenment, they will be disappointed. The only brilliance in what I leave is the very simplicity of the FIHs path to success.

It is a fine plan, one I wish will bring you all much enjoyment and satisfaction for a long time to come.

Etienne Glichitch President F. I. H.