There is an air of confidence about Marc Coudron as he girds his loins for the upcoming FIH Presidential elections, where he would be pitted against Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) CEO Mohammad Tayyab Ikram. The FIH Presidential elections would be held during the 48th FIH Congress on November 5 in Lausanne. The 52-year-old private banker (works at Belfius Bank) has worn multiple hats as far as hockey administration is concerned.
Coudron, who had made 358 international appearances for Belgium (1987-2004) and even captained the national side for a long time, considers Mohammad Tayyab Ikram as his ‘good friend’ but would be leaving no stone unturned to upset his applecart in the November 5 elections. The soft-spoken Belgium, who played his part in the emergence of Belgium as a formidable hockey force as Belgian Hockey Association President (2005-2021), spoke about the FIH Presidential elections as well as his plans for the future.
Q What would you take as learnings from the 2021 FIH Presidential elections when you lost to Narinder Batra by just two votes (you secured 61 votes against 63 voted by Batra in your electoral battle against Mohammad Tayyab Ikram?
Many people thought that I could be happy with 25% of the votes when I filed my nominations for the 2021 FIH Presidential elections but I got more than 49% of the votes eventually – of course, not adequate enough to win the elections. As far as learnings are concerned, I believe in the quote of US boxing legend Muhamad Ali “Impossible is temporary”.
Q How do you assess your chances against Mohammad Tayyab Ikram – any strengths you are banking on to win the FIH presidential elections?
Tayyab is a good friend of mine, we were together at the FIH EB for a few years till 2018. I wish him best of luck for the elections. As far as I’m concerned, I would leverage my strengths as a former Belgium hockey player (358 caps between 1987-2004, and captain of the Red Lions (1994-2001). I would also draw on my administrative experience as Belgian Hockey Association President (2005-2021). I have served as member of the EHF Competitions’ Committee (2006-2014), member of the FIH EB (2010-2018) and FIH Foundation Treasurer (2014-2018), as member and treasurer of the Belgian Olympic Committee (2013-2021). I’m also a private banker since 1992 in Belgium-based Belfius Bank. All these stints related to hockey administration and my banking experience would stand me in good stead for the elections.
Q What would be your top three priorities if you go on to become the next FIH President?
My prime focus is on ‘development, development and development’ , which means better governance and a strong financial management. The objective would be to channelise our energies on the development of hockey in across every hockey nations.
Q There is a lot of debate in the hockey world about the use of water-based hockey pitches – your thoughts?
Look, we have to redefine how to play hockey in the near future. For each game on water-based pitch, in every hockey nations, we use around 15,000 to 20,000 litres of water. We are all aware that water is already now a big issue but this can’t continue for eternity. Together with other IFs, I want to put the pressure on turf manufacturers to develop new kind of pitches, of the same quality, but without water. And it will be much less expensive to install and for the maintenance.
Q As a former Royal Belgian Hockey Association (KBHB), you had seen closely the emergence of Belgium as a hockey power – what do you think is the secret behind Belgium’s hockey success on the international stage?
Of course there is no secret ! But it’s about the will to improve at all levels, not only for the Red Lions but also for the Red Panthers. Our main objective in Belgium hockey is to make possible for every single young boy and young girl to play hockey with a good trainer, with a good coach, on a good hockey pitch, and explaining them the values of respect, team spirit, fair-play, tolerance, on the field and off the field. I have to say that I was very lucky to be surrounded by extraordinary people at the Belgian Federation, and in the Belgian hockey clubs. It’s impossible to climb the ladder like we did, on your own, it’s the success of so many people: we have worked hard together, and we have succeeded together.
Q What do you think can be done to make field hockey more popular and a money-spinner across the globe?
I want to develop hockey in every single hockey country in the world. Many hockey nations need to be helped in materials, in better coaches, in better trainers, in better pitches. And step by step, the hockey community will grow, will become more popular, will be played by much more young girls and young boys. We have a huge potential. And I’m convinced hockey has everything to become a bigger sport and a better sport.