24th  October 2019, Brussels: With the all important upcoming FIH elections now less than a month away, the EHF is very pleased to endorse our European candidates.

In David Balbirnie, Sue Catton, Michael Green, Erik Cornelissen and Santi Deo the EHF believes that these candidates, if elected, would be fantastic ambassadors for hockey on the World stage. They bring with them a wide range of attributes and we are delighted to start our series of articles on them, with our Member of Honour David Balbirnie, who is standing for election as President of the FIH.

Hockey Ireland has enjoyed a resurgence in the past few years, culminating in a historic first appearance at the Olympic Games in more than 108 years.

David Balbirnie has been at the heart of Ireland’s move up the world rankings. In the rationale supporting his nomination, Rob Johnson, CEO of Hockey Ireland, said: “David has a strong and proven track record as Irish Hockey’s Secretary General towards the development and integration of all regions of hockey in Ireland enabling us to enter and ultimately participate at the Olympic Games in Rio.”

Certainly Balbirnie’s involvement with the National Association has been a life-long affair. He has been actively involved with international hockey for more than 40 years, holding roles as Manager of the Irish senior outdoor and indoor teams and the under-21 teams. He was Honorary Secretary of Hockey Ireland from 1987 to 1993 and is a Honorary Life Member.

On the European front, Balbirnie has been on the Executive Board of the European Hockey Federation (EHF) for a number of years. He served as Secretary General for the EHF and, among the developments that he was involved in during his tenure, was the move to the new administrative headquarters in Brussels, the launch of the hugely successful Euro Hockey League and the integration of the former Soviet Union Republics into the European hockey competitive structure.

Within the FIH, Balbirnie is currently a member of the FIH Risk and Compliance Committee. Over the years he has been a member of the Executive Board and prides himself on his ability to communicate with a range of stakeholders and his knowledge of the workings of both the EHF and FIH.

He says: “I have a proven track record as a collaborative decision maker and the best way to provide an example of this is with the successful integration of all regions in Ireland to ensure our entry to participate in the Rio Olympics.”

In a time when every budget is under close scrutiny in all sports, Balbirnie is also keen to stress his financial acumen: “As a current member of the FIH Risk and Compliance committee, I play an important role in the management of FIH finances with significant oversight in this role. As Secretary General of EHF, I ensured the building of a strong balance sheet and sustainable financial plan.”

Brian Caruth, Chair of Hockey Ireland says: “David has been an outstanding ambassador for hockey in Ireland and throughout the world in his capacity as FIH Executive Board member and Honorable General Secretary of the European Hockey Federation.

“David’s personality will ensure, if elected, that he will connect with all Member Associations within the hockey family enabling them to work together in harmony for the betterment of our sport, always looking to the future without forgetting the past. Hockey Ireland believes that David has the energy, passion and experience to lead the FIH.”

We asked David what sets him apart from the other candidates Alongside my Vision on “International Relations”, “Event Portfolio”, “Governance” “Fan Engagement” and Marketing” we must also take particular care of our “Athletes welfare”.

As President of the International Hockey Federation I will ensure that there is a Players’ Association established to deal with matters such as career development, health and well-being, and fair contracts for employment.

Now we have had the Revolution it is time for EVOLUTION !”

For more information on the other candidates click here