New FIH President Tayyab Ikram says the organisation must work more closely with its National Associations ©FIH

New International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Tayyab Ikram has called for the organisation to work more closely with its National Associations.

Ikram, who beat Belgium’s Marc Coudron in the Presidential election by 79 votes to 47, in any election held as part of the Organisation’s virtual Congress on Saturday (November 5), will now lead the FIH for the next two years.

"The National Associations are the backbone of any International Federation," said Ikram, in an interview with the FIH website.

"Actually, let’s not forget that International Federations were created by the National Associations and not the other way round. The same goes for FIH.

"Therefore, it’s our duty to get closer to the National Associations, to listen to their issues, challenges but also proposals in order to serve them better and elaborate together a joint and bold vision for the growth of our beloved sport.

"In other words, we need to empower the National Associations. It’s also a matter of respect.

"In this global equation, the continental federations play a key role as well. With unity, all hockey stakeholders will win."

Ikram, from Pakistan, replaces Indian official Narinder Batra, who resigned in July, citing personal reasons.

Tayyab Ikram says he will aim to use his knowledge and experience of the Olympic Movement to reinforce hockey's position within the Olympic family ©ITG
Tayyab Ikram says he will aim to use his knowledge and experience of the Olympic Movement to reinforce hockey's position within the Olympic family ©ITG

Speaking at a media conference following the Congress, Ikram said one of the first calls he received after being elected was from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, which helped to reinforce to him the importance of hockey featuring on the Olympic programme.

"Being an Olympic sport gives hockey a dimension - as well as financial resources - which are essential for the growth of our sport," said Ikram.

"It goes without saying that I will use all my knowledge and experience of the IOC - and the Olympic Movement at large to not only maintain but also reinforce our position with the Olympic family.

"Being an Olympic sport is a tremendous help to reach our growth potential."

As exclusively revealed by insidethegames last month, the FIH posted a small profit in 2021 of CHF87,000 (£77,000/$87,000/€88,000), the first time it had posted an annual profit since 2017.

"It’s clear that the overall lack of financial resources impacts negatively the expansion of hockey," said Ikram.

"However, since we have the potential to grow our sport - in terms of participation but also fanbase - therefore we have the potential to grow our resources accordingly.

"After a couple of really challenging years, the FIH finances are stable again. So, I’m positive that we can continue improving on this side.

"I feel that our sport is not big enough to be fragmented when it comes to income generation.

"We have to look for synergies within our global hockey community. I’m convinced we would all benefit from that."

Following his re-election Ikram vowed to use water-free pitches at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics.

During its Congress, the FIH launched its Sustainability Strategy for Hockey, based on three core pillars - of people having a positive impact on everyone involved in the sport, of planet - leaving as small a footprint on the planet as possible and of prosperity - enabling hockey to prosper for future generations.

"It is great that FIH has just launched a global sustainability strategy for hockey and also, let’s be honest, long time due!" said Ikram.

"We’ve made a lot of progress with our partners and suppliers towards a water-free turf.

"And this is so crucial in a world where water is lacking for many people! But sustainability doesn’t stop at protecting the planet.

"It includes being socially and economically responsible and engaged.

"Inclusivity and diversity have to be fostered, and we need to align with the United Nations sustainable development goals."