Jerome Pels to take over as CEO of Hockey Ireland

Dutchman will succeed Rob Johnson and begin his new appointment on January 3rd

Following on from Rob Johnson’s enthusiasm and energy as interim chief executive officer of Hockey Ireland over the last 12 months, a new appointment has been made to take the sport forward towards the next World Cup and Olympic Games.

Dutchman Jerome Pels will be starting in the role for Ireland from January 3rd 2017.

Mr Pels has had a great deal of experience in sports administration and was formerly head of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), an organisation he worked with for 17 years.

He was responsible for the day to day running of the federation from their headquarters in Southampton. Before that he held various roles of responsibility for the Olympic Games in 2000, 2004 and 2008.


Pels took over the organisation’s top role in 2008 and held it until his resignation in 2014.

Earlier this year he became the interim CEO of Boccia England, the announcement of his appointment to Hockey Ireland coming this week.

Mr Pels is related by marriage to four-times Olympic champion and eight -times world champion sailor Ben Ainslie, as he is married to his sister Fleur.

His role in hockey is not an easy one as he tries to marry the aspirations of the women’s team to make the next Olympic Games and the men’s efforts to follow on from their success in making it to Rio.

The enormous cost of that commitment as well as running the organisation on a day to day basis on a slim budget will need a creative touch.

Asking Under-21 players for €1000 to represent Ireland at European events does not protect the sport against claims of being elite.

As it is Irish coach Craig Fulton has had to fund raise in the past, which is hardly his job, so Mr Pels comes in with clearly defined challenges for a sport that has, nonetheless, been successful in recent years.

Elsewhere the Irish Hockey League continues with four matches on Saturday including the two big hitters Monkstown and Lisnagarvey meeting in Rathdown. UCD’s match against Pembroke in Belfield, scheduled for Sunday has been postponed until mid-January.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times