Pride, dedication and passion…
Pride, dedication and passion, three words that are not too often used to describe the current state of the FIH but with Marc Coudron’s candidacy announcement on Saturday morning eliciting a wide range of responses, the majority of which were overwhelmingly positive, things could be about to change. If no one saw him coming, it was because the Brussels native seemed to have agreed to step down on June 19, after completing his fourth and final term as president of the Royal Belgian Hockey Association (ARBH). But, at 51 years old, the former national team most capped record holder (358) takes on a new significant challenge in the form of Dr Narinder Batra, the current president of the International Federation (FIH) “One of the few benefits of this pandemic was that I was able to find some time to think about the future. And I feel deep down that there is still so much pride, passion and desire to put myself at the service of our magnificent sport. If the [FIH Presidency] elections had taken place last November as originally planned, I certainly would not have gone for it. But I feel ready to bring my experience and dedication to the global level. I want to fight for the values of respect, integrity, sustainability and inclusion in our sport on a global level. “
Even if the appointment must also be accepted and formalised by the FIH’s Election Oversight Panel, Coudron will begin preparing his proposal to try to encourage the 137 countries that will vote on May 21. “I won’t make empty promises. I will listen carefully and ask many questions. I will explain my vision and I will focus on the needs of different countries. And for that, I want to discuss and meet as many people as possible from all over the world. Managers, coaches, players, volunteers, journalists, etc. The FIH does not belong to anyone. And I will only be a servant of hockey that is not limited to the world top and the 500 players from the 10 best world nations My mission will be successful if we manage to increase by 30% the number of clubs, members, coaches, players around the world. I want to give the desire and especially the possibility to a 10-year-old youngster in Namibia to say to himself that he can participate in a World or Africa Cup, to a young girl from Bangladesh that she can also achieve her dreams. They must have the feeling that they can develop in human terms and in sport. I want to set up a healthy and positive project but adapted to each world federation which integrates the notions of integrity, team spirit or respect. “
Experiencing financial challenges
Marc Coudron’s candidacy was warmly received because many people believed that a second term for Narinder Batra would be disastrous for the FIH’s growth. Finances are in the red, and Batra would dedicate way too much effort to the Indian Olympic Association, of which he is also president, and the Pro League would attract all of the publicity, while several other significant ventures would be ignored. “I obviously had contact with Narinder Batra. And I told him that I had nothing against him, but that I did not have the same approach or the same ambitions concerning the development of the FIH.” However, the image of ARBH’s president, who has previously served on the FIH board of directors (2010-18), brings together and can appeal to many federations hoping for a return to more healthy and careful management, as well as, above all, a straightforward and ambitious vision. Marc Coudron’s personality, as well as his principles, honesty, and sense of pride and passion, could provide him with a new major challenge, albeit at the height of his dedication and enthusiasm for hockey.
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