November 30 - A plan to cash in on the popularity of hockey in India in the build-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio is set to be discussed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) this week.
The sport's ruling Executive will this week hear a proposal for a six-year plan to raise the profile of the game even further in India, the world's second most populous country behind China with a population of 1.1 billion, in the hope that they can triple its annual budget of 5 million (£3 million) Swiss francs.
Christophe Troendle, the FIH’s director-general, said: "Many sports want to go to India because it's a fantastic market.
"For us it’s maybe easier because we are part of the culture."
The 24-member executive, chaired by FIH President Leandro Negre, will receive the proposals at its three-day meeting beginning Friday in Melbourne during the men's Champions Trophy.
New revenue from India would also reduce the governing body's dependence on the International Olympic Committee, which currently provides 40 per cent of its income.
Troendle told The Associated Press in an interview: "It's a very simple goal but very challenging.
"We recognised that we need more money and need to be more commercial.
"It's a necessity, not a luxury."
Under the proposed strategy, countries like India would stage the men’s and women’s World Cup and Champions Trophy more often.
World Cups are held every four years and the Champions Trophy annually.
Troendle said: "We want to locate our top properties into our top markets.
"Today we are totally invisible.
"We don't have brands - we have competitions that just have a name."
The FIH hopes to use the men’s World Cup in New Delhi - to be played next February 28-March 13 - to relaunch hockey in India.
Two weeks ago it signed India’s state-owned steel company SAIL as a tournament backer.
Motorcycle manufacturer Hero Honda is the title sponsor.
The strategy calls for eight global sponsorship deals instead of the current five with Hero Honda, Dutch bank ABN-Amro, Belgium-based accountants BDO International, Korean electronics firm Samsung and Ata Holding of Azerbaijan.
Behind cricket, hockey is India's second most popular sport.
For a period of time, India's men's field hockey team was dominant in Olympic competition, winning 11 medals in 12 Games between 1928 and 1980, including six successive gold medals from 1928-1956.
But they have not won the gold medal since Moscow in 1980, their last medal of any colour in the sport.
The FIH also wants to build the popularity of the shorter, faster indoor version of the sport by learning from the success of Indian Premier League cricket and seven-a-side rugby, which will debut on the Olympic programme at the 2016 Games in Rio.
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