Come 2024, hockey will not be played on water-based turf
Come 2024 Paris Olympics, field hockey will be played on a turf that doesn't require watering, International Hockey Federation (FIH) Chief Executive Officer Thierry Weil said, in New Delhi, on Saturday.
Weil, who joined the FIH last April, said that the decision was taken by the world body to conserve water and by 2024, a new hockey turf will be launched where balls can roll smoothly without water.
"In the Executive Board meeting, we made an important decision that from 2024 Paris Olympic Games, we will not play in a turf that requires water anymore because we cannot continue to be seen as a body which is wasting water," Weil told reporters at the end of FIH's 46th Congress in New Delhi.
"We have briefed all the suppliers around the world to work on creating a turf which comes close to the quality turf with water. It most probably will be a combination of turf, the ball and footwear.
"That's an important and bold decision. We cannot continue to waste water on the pitch when people next door may not have enough water to drink," added, Weil, who joined FIH from FIFA, where he was the Marketing Director.
The FIH CEO also said that he is open to the idea of taking hockey back to grass and other turfs, at least for smaller nations who doesn't have the money power to build astro-turfs.
"Hockey can be played on any surface. The thinking that hockey can only be played on turf with water is completely wrong. Hockey is a game which you can play on any surface," Weil said.
FIH President Narinder Batra clarified that the decision to take hockey beyond astroturfs was taken in the larger interest of the game and elite tournaments will be played on astroturfs only.
"It is not that hockey will return to grass or be played on any other surface. This decision was taken to help the smaller nations, tiny islands, who are our members. Elite hockey will continue to be played on astroturf," Batra said.
The FIH CEO was full of praise for the Hockey 5s but ruled out the possibility of five-a-side replacing 11-a-side in the Olympics.
"Hockey 5s will continue to be played in Youth Olympics but it will never replace 11-a-side in Summer Olympics. That way it create a balance," Weil said.
"From next year, the FIH will also start exhibition matches of Hockey 5s."
During the Congress, FIH also launched the new development strategy – named 'Hockey2024' – putting the global promotion and development of hockey at the heart of all its activities.
The FIH also elected four ordinary members in its Executive Board – two women and two men with the delegates naming Maureen Craig-Rousseau (Trinidad and Tobago), Elizabeth Safoa King (Ghana), Dr Michael Green (Germany) and Shahbaz Ahmad (Pakistan) from the nine-strong list of candidates that had been nominated by the various National Associations. FIH decision making process.
Mark Knowles (Australia), Rogier Hofman (Netherlands), Janne Müller-Wieland (Germany) and Carla Rebecchi (Argentina) were all elected by fellow athletes as regular members, with David Harte (Ireland) and Camila Caram (Chile) being elected as liaison members.
They will be joined on the Athletes' Committee by Scott Tupper (Canada), PR Sreejesh (India), Kate Richardson-Walsh (England) and Jacqueline Mwangi (Kenya), who were all recommended nominations by the Executive Board to give both gender and geographic balance.
In other important development, Algeria was inducted as a new member of the FIH, taking the number of member nations to 138.