|Desk of the President|
The International Hockey Federation, founded 75 years ago, began with the National Associations of Austria, Belgium Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Spain and Switzerland. Today, there are 120 members. A very healthy growth rate!
We are very happy with the sporting development of hockey in these 75 years, but we would not be entirely satisfied if we did not also work hard on the development of the human values of our sport. Hockey must continue to attract and develop men and women who - while not forgetting how important it is to win games - can contribute to society in the same way they do as part of their team. They must be generous and have a fighting spirit in competition, they must know how to win and how to lose, and they must show respect for their fellow athletes and umpires. They must demonstrate the fraternity of the hockey family, and especially, sportsmanship on the field of play. These are all virtues necessary for life itself. Hockey must educate athletes, enabling and encouraging them to live in a world of peace, respect and solidarity. In other words, personify the values of our sport.
These values are also extolled by the five FIH Continental Federations, which play an important and critical role in the administration of our sport. While the FIH has the ultimate overall authority for hockey worldwide, it is through a strong and co-operative relationship with the five Continental Federations that much of hockey's success is accomplished. This is most evident in a pre-Olympic year when most Continental Championships are held.
I would like to extend my congratulations to the winners of the Continental Championships held in Africa, Asia, Europe, Pan Am and Oceania. The winning nations are now automatically qualified for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games under the FIH and IOC qualification system. The women's automatic qualifiers are: Australia, Argentina, Netherlands, Korea and South Africa. The men's automatic qualifiers are Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Netherlands and South Africa.
In March 2000, the final pieces of the Olympic hockey puzzle will be put into place with the staging of the men's and women's Qualifying tournaments for the Olympic Games, to be played in Japan and England respectively. In addition to the automatically qualified teams, five women's teams and six men's teams will win their pass to the Olympic Games through the Qualifying tournaments. I expect that these will be hotly contested, high quality events which will provide exciting and passionate sport. I am genuinely looking forward, as is the world hockey community, to witnessing the spectacle play out. Best of luck to all the participating teams.
While focusing on the importance of Continental Federations, it seems an appropriate moment, and indeed my pleasure, to congratulate the newly elected and re-elected office bearers of the African Hockey Federation, the European Hockey Federation and the Pan American Hockey Federation. All three continental bodies have held elections in 1999, and I am certain the individuals entrusted with leadership roles and key responsibilities will live up to all expectations.
One of the important events taking place in conjunction with the FIH's 75th Anniversary celebrations is a visit in October with Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee. The members of the FIH Executive Board, the President's Forum and the Foundatioin for the Promotion and Development of Hockey will meet with Mr. Samaranch in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he will be presented with a sculpture by Catalan artist, Emilio Armengol. The sculpture will be installed in the garden of the Olympic Museum as a permanent memento of this important milestone.
Two ground-breaking events will also take place during the FIH's 75th Anniversary celebrations being held in Alexandria, Egypt. The FIH will award for the first time its International Player of the Year Awards. All National Associations were given the opportunity to nominate players, and a selection panel comprised of Coaches, Umpires, Athlete Panel members and Media representatives will make the final decisions. It will be a pleasure for me to hand over the specially-commissioned trophies to the top male and female hockey players of the year. I hope it will be the start of a long and wonderful FIH tradition.
The second notable event scheduled for Alexandria are two high-level exhibition matches which will see the Olympic and World Champion Australian women's team and the Olympic and World Champion Netherlands men's team face President's Select squads. There are no plans for the matches to become annual events, which therefore makes them an almost historical undertaking. An appropriate way to celebrate the history of the FIH, and in an appropriately historical setting.
Many thanks to one and all who have contributed to the success of the FIH over the past 75 years. I hope to have the opportunity to celebrate this anniversary with representatives of our 120 member associations and thank them personally for all they have done in the past, and all I am sure they will continue to do for the future of our dear sport.
Juan Angel Calzado