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Why Elena Norman resigned as Hockey India CEO

By Rediff Sports
Last updated on: February 27, 2024 16:39 IST
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IMAGE: Elena Norman resigned from the CEO position a day after Janneke Schopman's unceremonious exit. Photograph: Hockey India

Outgoing Hockey India CEO Elena Norman on Tuesday said the work environment in HI was "suffocating" and she had no choice but to call it quits.

After holding the position for 13 years, Norman resigned and even though HI did not reveal the specific reasons for her decision in its official statement, the Australian spoke out on what pushed her to exit.

"Absolutely, it was getting tough to deliver in the fight between two factions. The environment was becoming suffocating," Norman told PTI in an interview.


"There are two factions in Hockey India. There is (President) Dilip Tirkey and I and there is (Secretary) Bholanath Singh, (Executive Director) Cdr. R K Srivastava and (Treasurer) Sekar J Manoharan," she said.

"There are guys who want power and then there is (HI President) Dilip (Tirkey) who is a nice guy, only after betterment of Indian hockey," the 49-year-old explained.

What aggravated the entire situation was the non-payment of her remuneration for three months.

"There were some issues (regarding my salary) and after much persuasion that got cleared last week," Norman said.

Her resignation is the second blow to HI in the last few days after the Indian women's hockey team coach Janneke Schopman resigned, also complaining of a difficult work environment.

Schopman said she was not being valued and appreciated by the governing body.

Norman also made similar assertions and talked about the infighting within HI without dwelling on the issues that were causing the clash of ideas. She, however, praised Tirkey for his unwavering support.

Sources in HI said Tirkey has struggled to devote time to HI due to his political commitments with the Biju Janata Dal party in Odisha. He is expected to fight Lok Sabha elections later this year.

Norman, who moved to India in 2007 to work for a sports marketing firm before being appointed the federation's first CEO in 2011, said she has put her points across to the HI board and is now looking forward to a break.

"I have addressed my point to the board members. Dilip knows everything but I don't want to go into specifics. I feel it's my time to leave and I am excited about new opportunities. It's just time for myself now," she said.

"I am going to take a holiday, I am going to go fishing, I am going to go for some trek, I am going to spend time with my family. I have been here for a long time so I just want to unwind now.

"I will take at least three months off and then look for exciting opportunities. I don't know what will happen in future to be honest but it's all going to be great," she added enthusiastically.

Norman served a major part of her stint with HI when former International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief Narinder Batra was the president of the national body.

During her tenure, HI hosted two consecutive editions of FIH Men's World Cup in 2018 and 2023, two Junior Men's World Cup in 2016 and 2021 and also hosted five editions of the now-discontinued Hockey India League (HIL).

She was at the forefront of the organisational set-up for these events.

Norman was also instrumental in the appointment of Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne as the head coach of the women's team, which finished a historic fourth in the Tokyo Olympics. Schopman too was also seen as her choice.

She is also credited for Australian Graham Reid's appointment as the men's coach in 2019. Under Reid's tutelage, the team won a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, ending a 41-year drought.

Besides, HI also hosted several international hockey events including the Champions Trophy, World League Finals in 2015 and 2017, Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 and 2024 as well as the Hockey Pro League home games during her tenure.

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