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First imprint of new FIH President (2/14/2017)
--s2h team
As Global Sports fraternity looks forward to Monaco today for Laureus World Sports Awards -- where the likes of Uain Bolt, Michel Phelps, Andy Murray, Cristiano Ronaldo and other living legends are in line for honours – the hitherto conservative FIH’s hockey world too is very close to have something of its own that has Laureus level of glitterati, glamour and global label. The FIH will organize its awards function in Chandigarh, not as a routine half-time ritual, but on a grand scale, in a refined and reformed way late next week. This is first impact of Indian president of FIH.

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It has been an usual sight during major tournaments in the last more than two decades. The Federation Internationale de Hockey (FIH)’s president will walk upto four players lined up during the half time of semi-final or finals of World Cup, Champions Trophy or Even European Championships and present them with FIH’s most prestigious individual awards.

We saw it happen from Juan Angel Calzado, whose period the awards concept after all took shape, Els van Breda Vriesman to Leondro Negre, who relinquished the office late last year.

The memento, though invaluable, is normally a simple glass work.

The awards function lasts less than five minutes, remained low key affair. Exceptions to this are few and far between.

For instance, 2001 Annual Awards were given away during the semifinal of 2002 Men’s World Cup in Kuala Lumpur. Eight months later, 2002 Annual Awards were dispersed during Women’s World Cup, Perth, Australia, in December 2002. Two annual awards in a calendar year! There was small high tea in the evening. The trend continued in Monchengladbach, The Hague, KL Champions Trophy (2007) and elsewhere.

Having present on most of these occasions this writer wondered if not did hockey deserve better. When then Hero Honda stepped in, and roped in cricketer Kapil Dev as its brand ambassador, to host Laures World Sports Awards, and then Sahara doing the same albeit briefly for Laureus in the serene settings of Aamby Valley resort in the last decade, individual sports longed for the same.

India, though, got an idea how sporting awards functions world over are held.

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When Hockey India introduced set of nominees for each category before the pick was announced in a grand function three winters ago, it opened a new vista. It continued in Bangaluru too.

The gala function lasted about three hours and set a benchmark. Classic moulded trophies, show stopping interludes, high value purses that went with each awardee – Rs.30 lacs (Appx. USD 5000) for deserving Balbir Singh’s Lifetime Award (and then for Shankar Laxman) is the highest in the world of hockey – provided suspense, entertainment and purposefulness.

Indian Hockey got what it desired for long.

With Narender Batra ascending to the chair of the FIH, it was expected he will sideline the parent body’s orthodoxy, bring events to a larger and bigger stage, and modernize and transform things the way he did for Indian hockey.

Signs of such expectations gains currency now.

First imprint of Narendra Batra is all present in the forthcoming gala Awards Day to be held 23rd February in Chandigarh.

Though details are kept secret, the fact that two global fans are to selected electronically who will be given free ticket to be in the function, and the proposed Live telecast and webcast to give the event the kind of visibility it entails, give an idea the field hockey sport is in a hurry to catch up with lost time.

And is willing go acquire the aura of Laureus.

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