|Desk of the President|
The end of another year approaches, and faster than anyone could probably imagine, 1998 will soon come to a close. The world of hockey can look back on 1998 with pride; pride which stems from, among other things, the remarkably successful 9th Men's and Women's World Cups and hockey's successful debut at the Commonwealth Games.
The FIH can also be proud of the work of the FIH Global Competition Task Force and its diligent efforts over the past year, the results of which give us all reason to look ahead to 1999 - and the years beyond - with a sense of excitement and optimism.
With the Task Force's work completed and its recommendations having received Executive Board and Council approval (more details pages 3-5), the International Hockey Federation now has a new look to its competition format which forms the base of an overall plan to increase hockey's appeal and exposure around the world.
The competition format is just one piece of a complex and integrated puzzle, but it is of course, an important piece to get right. The wisdom of our actions will of course be borne out over time, but I am confident that we as the body responsible for hockey around the world have made a sound decision. More teams will be participating in major FIH events, and there will be more and more regular international competition for mid-level hockey playing countries. In addition, our potential for television exposure and our marketing value is increased.
Other pieces of the puzzle have been added to those already in place - in the areas of umpiring, development, coaching, equipment - and the bigger picture is becoming more and more clear.
The FIH Council recently approved the appointment of Adrien Vanden Eede, former President of the Belgian Olympic Committee and long-time consultant to International Olympic Committee President. Mr. Vanden Eede will be working closely with the FIH and a panel of Marketing Advisors to secure global sponsor support for hockey.
Television is another very important part of the picture. London-based CSI have been representing the FIH for only a few short months, but their input and impact has been immediately noticeable. They were able, for example, to achieve exposure for the recent 20th Men's Champions Trophy in a wide variety of non-participating countries. CSI's enthusiasm and initiative will - I feel certain - result in even greater success for hockey and in time, greater benefits for FIH sponsors and other valued partners.
In he next two years, we will devote our efforts to three aspects which are necessary to develop our sport and increase supporters. We must develop our Top Umpiring Programme to create a panel of outstanding umpires, coming from all continents, so that their quality can help raise the level of hockey in their respective countries.
Another aspect is the implementation of a four-year FIH Development Plan that has been carefully prepared by the Development & Coaching Committee, for and in co-operation with each Continent.
Finally, a thorough study of the Rules of the Game is of paramount importance, so that - without losing our identity - we can make our rules easier to understand for people in general, by sports lovers in particular, and simpler to be interpreted by our umpires.
To achieve all this, we need unity and efforts through the Continental Federations, the FIH Committees and the National Associations, with whom we must be in harmony of thought, to do the work necessary to shape hockey's development with a view to the year 2000, and well beyond.
The past is passed, and now we have to look to the future.
While it may be impossible to ever get all the pieces to fit just right, the FIH will nevertheless continue to add pieces where needed, take them away where they are not, and make the necessary changes to achieve the big picture of success.
On 24th January 1999, the International Hockey Federation celebrates the 75th Anniversary of its founding in Paris by Paul Léautey. The Frenchman was motivated by hockey's exclusion from the 1912 and 1924 summer Olympic Games, after being included in the 1908 Games, on the basis that hockey had no world governing body.
Seventy five years later, as a direct result of the formation of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey, hockey is a regular fixture on the Olympic programme. And according to comments made earlier in the year by IOC President Samaranch, hockey will remain there "forever."
Over those 75 years, women's hockey has been added to the programme, with the numbers of participating teams steadily increasing. In Atlanta there were eight. In Sydney there will be 10 and in Athens there will be 12, equaling the number of men's teams. The FIH has grown from its original seven members to encompass five Continental Federations and 117 member associations.
The foresight demonstrated by M. Léautey has proven to be exceptionally beneficial for hockey in our modern times, and for this the world hockey family should be grateful. In return, we re-commit ourselves, at this appropriate time, to carrying on and improving the legacy we have been given.
Happy holidays…and thank you
I wish to take this opportunity to extend my very best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy 1999 to all members of the hockey family, the extended hockey family, and all their families as well.
Thank you most sincerely for your work over the past year for and in support of hockey.
Juan Angel Calzado