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Batra sets first for Indian sport with FIH presidential election

Narinder Batra has been elected as the new president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), becoming the first Indian official to lead an Olympic sport’s global governing body.

Batra (pictured) defeated two rival candidates at the elections held on Saturday during the 45th FIH Congress in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with current incumbent Leandro Negre having decided to depart from the presidency following two terms in office.

Batra, who was formerly an ordinary member of the FIH Executive Board, received 68 votes to defeat fellow presidential candidates David Balbrinie from Ireland (29 votes) and Australia's Ken Read (13 votes). Eight national associations abstained from voting.

Batra’s four-year term begins immediately, with Spaniard Negre awarded the title of president of honour by the FIH. As the new president, Batra will be tasked with leading the sport through the next phase of the FIH’s 10-year ‘Hockey Revolution’ strategy. A key part of this will be the delivery of the new event portfolio which begins in 2019.

Batra has played a prominent role in hockey development in his home country since being appointed as treasurer of Hockey India in 2009. A year later, he became secretary general and was elected as president of the national association in 2014. Batra is also chairman of the Hockey India League, the franchised competition which is now entering its fifth season.

The new president will work closely with outgoing chief executive Kelly Fairweather over the next few weeks before the latter’s departure to become chief operating officer of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in early December. The FIH appointed Jason McCracken as its new chief executive last month. The New Zealander, who currently works as head of insurance and investment risk at the ANZ banking group, will take up his new role on February 1 next year.

In other news, five national associations have been granted full membership of the FIH. Current member national associations voted to approve full membership rights to Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Nicaragua and Colombia following substantial development of the sport in those nations in recent years.

The new nations take FIH membership to 137, with the Hockey Revolution plan targeting a figure of 152 by 2024.