FIH: Marc Coudron- “I Received Dozens of Messages Encouraging Me to Represent Myself”

The former president of the Belgian Hockey Federation (ARBH) will stand for the presidency of the FIH following the “resignation” of Narinder Batra, the one who beat him for two votes in May 2021.

Marc Coudron, Belgium Hockey president

Unhappy candidate for the election to the presidency of the FIH (International Hockey Federation) organized in 2021, Marc Coudron (52) announced on Friday that he would run for the next election (November 5) organized following the ” resignation” of his former rival, the Indian Narinder Batra, who had beaten him by two votes.

Marc, before discussing your new candidacy, tell us what you have become since May 22, 2021 of sad memory?

I remained who I am. And I completed, as announced, my mandates as president of the ARBH (the Belgian Federation) then that of treasurer of the COIB. For the rest, I’m stillprivate bankingat Belfius, and I enjoy seeing my children grow up, and in particular playing hockey.

How long did it take you to digest your defeat?

While I had been given a one in four chance of being elected, I had obtained 49.5% of the vote. I was therefore less disappointed than frustrated to have missed for so little, and especially sad for the small hockey nations towards which I wanted to concentrate a large part of my efforts. Disappointments, I had experienced much greater when I was playing (Editor’s note: 358 selections for the Red Lions) after having notably missed out on qualifying for the Games four times!

Have you relaunched other projects or responded to certain requests since then?

No, I said I wanted to quit. Last May, I took over from Jean-Michel Saive as President of the Urban Youth Games, a great project to promote sport among young people launched by Jacques Borlée in the wake of the attacks in Brussels.

Then came the resignation of Narinder Batra a few weeks ago… Karma?

(He smiles.) First of all, I want to say that I get on well with Narinder, who is certainly not a bad person. I do not know the underlying reasons for what happened to him and therefore cannot express myself on this subject. All that has been said is that he was sentenced by the Indian High Court, which is not nothing, and that one of the grievances that has been made against him is that he declared himself president for life of Hockey India, which is obviously prohibited in terms of governance.

And so you are again a candidate for his succession. A year ago, however, you said that you would not run again in 2024 and that you would “never be FIH President”!

Proof that only fools don’t change their minds. It is true that in 2021, the momentum seemed favorable to me in relation to the end of my mandate at the ARBH, etc. Here, within an hour of the resignation announcement, I received dozens of messages from around the world encouraging me to run again. I was on a family vacation and it allowed me to talk about all this with my loved ones first. Then I had a lot of calls, enough to rekindle the flame that has always been in me because hockey has always been part of my life. So I said “go” after two good weeks of reflection because I know that this unpaid mandate has many implications at the family level and at the professional level.

Your program should not change a lot?

Indeed, the situation has not changed much in a year and a half. I have identified three major challenges to be addressed as a priority. Finances first, because the FIH is not in the best papers, with the watermark of the maintenance or not of the Pro League. The governance of the FIH then, with quite a few points to improve so that it becomes a benchmark in terms of transparency. And then finally the development of hockey in the world. A figure to illustrate my point: there are nearly a hundred countries which do not even have as many members as the big Belgian clubs, namely a thousand affiliates! This shows the potential of this sport. I have a lot of ideas to improve things in terms of infrastructure and supervision,

Anyway, we will have to start by being elected this time! Have you learned from the previous election and will you do it differently?

I don’t know if I’m going to change a lot of things. As always, I will listen to expectations from the different countries, where I am now known.

Have you heard of any other applications (open until August 25)?

Yes, that of Tayyab Ikram, the current CEO of the Asian Federation, who is already in theboardof the FIH. He is of Pakistani origin but represents Macau where he resides. He also has a role in Olympic Solidarity at IOC level. This is someone who knows a lot of people and who will therefore be a strong candidate.

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