He looked into the abyss, pulled it out, turned Indian hockey’s fortunes single handedly and as the tenure of Narinder Batra as Hockey India boss draws to a close, the administrator says his only regret is his failure to start a women’s league on the lines of HIL.
Batra, who first served as the secretary general and then president of Hockey India, will soon take up his new responsibility as International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief.
The 59-year-old Batra became the first non-European president of the FIH after he was elected to the top post by an overwhelming margin during the penultimate day of the 45th FIH Congress last Saturday.
It means he will have to leave his other administrative posts, which also includes Hockey India President’s chair.
But Batra seemed a contended man and hoped the legacy and professionalism he brought will continue long after his departure.
“Hockey India has now become a professional set-up and it should continue the way it is going for the last 4-5 years. My satisfaction is that I have prepared a base and I hope it doesn’t go down,” an emotional Batra said during his first media conference here after being elected to the top post of world hockey body.
“I never judge myself. I have my style of working but I work honestly. Now it’s upto the people to decide whether they like my style of working or not.
“I feel we made progress. The men’s team rose from 12 to 6 in world rankings and the women’s team qualified for Olympics after a long gap. I desperately wanted to start the women’s league but I failed in that. That’s my only regret,” he said.
Batra’s win means the power centre of the sport will now move to Asia from Europe, which had been ruling international hockey for decades.
Batra, who became President of Hockey India in October 2014 after serving as its secretary, succeeds Spaniard Leandro Negre, who has been the FIH chief since 2008.
Batra is solely credited for changing the fortunes of Indian hockey by bringing in money to the sport via sponsors and his business acumen.
He turned India into the epicentre of world hockey and made Indian players financially independent by creating a successful IPL-style Hockey India League, which will enter its fifth season next year.
Batra also brought international hockey to India and ensured that the country got to host a major international tournament every year in the last four years.
According to reports, under Batra’s leadership Hockey India’s income has grown from USD 500,000 to USD 14 million over the last six-year period.
But Batra said till he hands over the charges of Hockey India to a new president, he won’t be involved in any financial or commercial decisions.
“I will have to give up all my posts which has conflict of interest. As per our Constitution within 15 days the Executive Board of Hockey India will select or elect a new president but I will abstain from that decision,” he said.
“During this period I won’t be taking any financial or commercial decisions.”
Batra has five conflict of interests issues, which include Hockey Jammu and Kashmir President, Hockey India League Chairman, Hockey India President, Asian Hockey Federation Vice-President and Associate Vice-President of Indian Olympic Committee.
Highlighting the latest decisions taken under his leadership, Batra also informed that from 2018 HIL will be seven-team affair after JSW Sports brought a new franchise.
Batra also listed some of the major events India would be hosting in the next two years, prominent among them are Men’s World Cup and Asian Champions Trophy in 2018 and Hockey World League next year.