Rob Johnson’s election to OCI executive a big plus for hockey

Sport’s aim is to qualify two teams for Tokyo in 2020 and to improve on Rio results

Hockey is now a bona fide Olympic sport and Ireland aim  to  qualify two teams for Tokyo in 2020.

Hockey is now a bona fide Olympic sport and Ireland aim to qualify two teams for Tokyo in 2020.

 

Rob Johnson’s election on to the executive committee of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) last week arrives at a timely moment for hockey and indeed for the OCI.

He arrives into the Olympic movement just as it undergoes comprehensive change and just after hockey experienced one of its best moments in reaching the Rio Olympic Games.

Johnson, a supporter of Sarah Keane, the now OCI president, is involved to work for all the sports. But as hockey is now a bona fide Olympic sport with ambitions to not only qualify two teams for Tokyo in 2020, but also to do better than in Rio, it can only be a positive thing that the information flow between the bodies will increase.

After her election, Keane spoke of the different needs of different sports. Some sports like boxing, athletics and rowing, seek not just to qualify but to win medals, while other sports have yet to ever qualify for an Olympics. Some others have just a remote chance of ever having a representative at the games. So, needs are different.

Hockey’s position now has changed from a sport that could not qualify five years ago to one that should dare to think bigger than just making up numbers.  

Avoca’s David Balbirnie, who recently lost out in a bid to become president of World Hockey (FIH), was the last representative from the sport to have been a member of the OCI back in the 1990s.

But the landscape has now changed dramatically since then. Johnson, a Three Rock Rovers member for many years and interim Hockey Ireland CEO for a brief period, understands the problems ahead within the OCI.

But the important thing is that hockey now has a voice within a new OCI organisation that promises different agendas and priorities and has a new executive that has promised to listen to needs of federations.

Saturday EY Hockey League – Monkstown v Banbridge, 11.30 Rathdown; Cork C of I v Railway Union, 2.30 Garyduff; Instonians v UCD, 3.00 Shawsbridge; Three Rock Rovers v Lisnagarvey, 3.00 Grange Road; Pembroke v Glenanne, 4.00 Serpentine Avenue.

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