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Long-Serving Hockey India CEO Elena Norman Resigns

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (PTI) Fresh turmoil hit Hockey India on Tuesday when its long-serving CEO Elena Norman resigned from her position, alleging that her remuneration was held back for a prolonged period and the job itself was made “difficult” by rampant factionalism in the body.

The 49-year-old Australian held the post for nearly 13 years and had not been paid for the last three months, according to sources in HI.

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“There were some issues (regarding salary) and after much persuasion, that got cleared last week,” Norman told PTI after HI issued a statement announcing her exit without specifying any reasons.

“There are two factions in Hockey India. There is (President) Dilip Tirkey and I and there is (Secretary) Bholanath Singh, (Executive Director) Cdr. R K Srivastava and (Treasurer) Sekar J Manoharan,” she said.

“It was getting tough to deliver in the fight between two factions,” she added.

Norman moved to India in 2007 to work for a sports marketing firm before being appointed the federation’s first CEO in 2011.

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Her resignation comes days after the chief coach of the Indian women’s hockey team Janneke Schopman quit, claiming that she was not valued and respected by the national federation. She had also complained about a difficult work environment.

Norman’s resignation is another setback for the body. HI president and former India captain Dilip Tirkey, while accepting Norman’s resignation, expressed his gratitude towards the Australian.

“Not only as the President of Hockey India but also as a former player and avid hockey enthusiast, I want to formally acknowledge and extend my sincere gratitude for her remarkable contributions over the last 12-13 years,” Tirkey said in a statement.

“Her dedication and efforts have played a pivotal role in propelling Hockey India and Indian hockey to the commendable position they hold today. I wish her great success in all her future endeavours.”

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During the time she held the top job, the country’s men and women’s teams achieved career-best world rankings.

A historic bronze-medal finish by the men’s team at the Tokyo Olympic Games, ending a 41-year medal drought, was also a major accomplishment. The women also finished at an unprecedented fourth in the quadrennial showpiece.

Norman served a major part of her stint with HI when former international hockey federation (FIH) chief Narinder Batra was the president of the national body.

During her tenure, HI hosted two consecutive editions of FIH Men’s World Cup in 2018 and 2023, two Junior Men’s World Cup in 2016 and 2021 and also hosted five editions of the now-discontinued Hockey India League (HIL), a franchise-based league.

Besides, HI also hosted several international hockey events including the Champions Trophy, World League Finals in 2015 and 2017, Olympic Qualifiers in 2019 and 2024 as well as the Hockey Pro League home games during her tenure.

“Elena was also at the forefront of bringing women’s hockey to limelight, providing them equal facilities as the men’s hockey team, including cash awards recognising standout performances in international events through the Hockey India Annual Awards,” said a Hockey India statement.

“She was particularly instrumental in the success of the women’s team that qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a historic feat as the team qualified for the first time and participated in the Olympics after 36 years,” the statement added.

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