As he was in Amsterdam, Netherlands, recently to attend the last matches of the fifth edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League, FIH President Tayyab Ikram participated in the General Assembly of the Dutch Hockey Federation (KNHB) clubs.

In his address to the more than 300 clubs belonging to KNHB’s club structure, the FIH President touched upon a wide range of key strategic topics for hockey and its development, and thanked the clubs for the invaluable support that, through their remarkable efforts and dedication, they’re providing to their communities.

One of his major focus points was about the way the hockey community presents the sport and its ability to be even more appealing for future generations. “We must look very carefully at the expectations of the youth towards sports. This is fundamental for the future of hockey. Clubs have a major role to play in this regard,” President Ikram said.

“Providing a safe environment for children, ensuring to spend enough time with them to socialize, taking appropriate measures to protect mental health are absolute ‘must-do’ for clubs. It’s a matter of respect for the kids in the first place, and crucial to maintain our appeal as a sport too,” he continued. President Ikram emphasized that mental health should be taken into consideration with a more professional approach. Creating a secure and positive environment helps address the challenges our youth face today.

The FIH President went on by requesting from club leaders to ensure that young athletes always feel well whenever they’re playing hockey, as this will help them grow not only as players but also as individuals. This, in turn, is beneficial for everyone, including the clubs themselves. He expressly tasked KNHB to embrace this as a major project.

Another crucial topic mentioned by the FIH President was inclusion and diversity. He encouraged all clubs to have a more diversified approach: “Please engage with less privileged people, children, or communities. KNHB is already doing a great job with its Foundation; clubs should also start individual initiatives.”

President Ikram also highlighted the importance of sustainability within the hockey community. He noted that clubs should leverage the involvement of parents to provide a positive impact on the kids. This involvement is beneficial for the children’s development. Engaging parents in club activities creates opportunities for discussions on club values and community mental health.

He further stressed that training is more important than traditional education in the context of sports. “Don’t teach; they learn. Our priority should be to make individuals ready for the future. Whatever is required, clubs should be able to cater to those needs.”

With less than a month to go to the next Olympiad, the General Assembly took place, quite symbolically, in the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium that was built for the 1928 Olympic Games. The legacy of the Olympics and recent events serve as reminders of the ongoing commitment to sports excellence and the need to continuously support our athletes.

In conclusion, President Ikram reiterated the importance of the club’s role in promoting mental health awareness, sustainability, and the rights of athletes as we look forward to events like the FIH Hockey World Cup in 2026. The focus remains on creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all athletes.