Amidst concern and threat from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) of stripping India [ Images ] its participation rights from international events, the Indian Olympic [ Images ] Association on Wednesday formally announced the formation of 'Hockey India', a unified body comprising the men's and women's associations.
IOA president Suresh Kalmadi [ Images ] said Hockey India was formed on May 20 after the IOA received a warning letter from the FIH on May 5.
The FIH had expressed concern about the existence of two hockey federations in the country and set a 15-day deadline to act or else not only lose the hosting rights of next year's World Cup but also participation rights in FIH events.
"I am very happy to inform you that Hockey India has been formed. The nine-member committee met five times and discussed the issue and finally formed Hockey India," he told reporters.
"The Government of India and FIH has been apprised of the development," he added.
The IOA formed a nine-member committee under the chairmanship of IOA joint-secretary Harish Sharma and gave it full powers to it to take decisions on hockey matters.
Apart from Sharma, other members of the committee include Athletics Federation Chief Lalit Bhanot, Avinash Kohli, Table Tennis Federation president M C Chowhan, Vidya Stokes, Amrit Bose, Mohammad Aslam Khan, Rajiv Mehta and Rakesh Gupta.
After a series of meetings, the nine-member committee finally decided to amalgamate men's and women's hockey under one roof by the name of Hockey India which already has been provisionally recognised by the IOA and registered with the Registrar of Societies.
The governing council of Hockey India consists of seven members with former Indian Boxing Federation chief A K Matto as president, Vidya Stokes as senior vice-president, Mohammad Aslam Khan as secretary general, Narendra Batra as treasurer and Harish Sharma, Rajeev Mehta and Mushtaq Ahmed as members.
Kalmadi, who was also the chairman of the ad-hoc committee which ran hockey affairs in the country for almost a year after the KPS Gill-led Indian Hockey Federation was dissolved, said the Hockey India will work with all the state Olympic Associations to ensure one hockey unit for all the states and then conduct an election of the Body within six months of its registration under the supervision of an FIH observer.
"The committee will assess and work with all the states to govern and administer the functions to form a single unit at the state level and then conduct election within six months under an FIH observer," he said.
Asked why Mattoo, who was never a hockey official, was chosen as the acting president of Hockey India, he said, "Be sure Mattoo will not run for the president's post. We brought him temporarily keeping in mind his vast experience in sports management. He is there to form the base of Hockey India till it is on its feet."
Mattoo, who was the boxing federation president for 16 years, said his priority in the new assignment would be to conduct the elections of Hockey India as early as possible.
He said as per the constitution he has 10 members units ready, he would call for the elections without further delay.
"I am not looking for any recognition. I will talk to the states and the moment I have 10 units I will hold the elections without wasting any time."
He said he is open to gender equality in the new body and would float the idea in the coming meetings.
"I think gender equality should be there but that doesn't mean 50-50 participation. It can be 60-40 either way but it has to be worked out in detail," he added.