Former India captain Dilip Tirkey on Friday became Hockey India's first player-president after his unopposed election to the top post as yet another sports person has grabbed the top job in a National Sports Federation (NSF).
Hockey India elections were scheduled to be held on October 1 but the results were declared in advance as there were no contestants for any post.
Tirkey, who filed his nomination as President of Hockey Odisha, was elected after Uttar Pradesh Hockey chief Rakesh Katyal and Hockey Jharkhand's Bhola Nath Singh withdrew their nominations on Friday.
Tirkey, 44, is the latest addition to the list of players who have grabbed the top job in a sports body. Recently, former player Kalyan Chaubey became the All India Football federation (AIFF) boss.
Tirkey says sports persons can contribute as administrators too.
"I believe former players should come into sports administration because they know where to focus. Like Sourav Ganguly was in the CAB first and then went to BCCI and is performing brilliantly," Tirkey told PTI-Bhasha.
"I am happy that Hockey India has also elected a former player like me as its president for the first time. Players go through many phases in their career and they get better experience," the former full back added.
Adille Sumariwalla, who is also a former players, is president of Athletics Federation of India (AFI).
Bhola Nath has been elected unopposed as secretary general.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has approved Tirkey and his team's appointments.
In a letter, the FIH said that when the number of contesting candidates for any post is equal to or less than the number of posts, they shall be deemed to have been elected unopposed as per election by-laws on the Hockey India website.
"Therefore, we are pleased to observe that the Executive Board of Hockey India stands elected as has been put on the website of Hockey India and that the posts election was unanimous for all posts," it said.
The game's governing body appreciated the efforts of the three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), which included Justice Anil R Dave, SY Quraishi and Zafar Iqbal, for smoothly conducting the election process.
"We are delighted that the election process has been completed and a democratic body is now in place. We extend our congratulations to Dr Dilip Tirkey, Bhola Nath Singh and Sekar J Manoharan and look forward to working with them closely," it added.
Tirkey, who is the country's most capped player with 412 international caps, said there is a need to prepare the next generation of players.
"There is a need for a specific training program for junior players such as the need to prepare the next generation of drag-flickers and goalkeepers and the focus will also be on team fitness," he said.
"We have seen how important the role of our drag flicker and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was in the Olympics, but after that the next generation players will also have to be produced."
He also said that there is also a plan to restart the Hockey League.
"We also have plans to restart the hockey league. It will be discussed with the committee and after discussion with the executive board it will be taken forward."
Bhola Nath said he decided to withdraw his nomination for the president's post to enable a great player like Tirkey to take up the reigns.
"I withdrew after due consultation with Dilip Tirkey. He is a legend and we have decided to work jointly for the good of Indian hockey. Our aim is to see India win the Olympic gold again," Bhola Nath told PTI.
"We will also work towards the development of the game at the grassroot level and make domestic hockey stronger."
The other elected members of Hockey India are Asima Ali (vice president) of Hockey Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka's SVS Subramanya Gupta (vice president), Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu's Sekar J Manoharan (treasurer), Hockey Rajasthan's Arti Singh (joint secretary) and Hockey Haryana's Sunil Malik (joint secretary).
The five executive board members are Arun Kumar Sarswat (Hockey Rajasthan), Asrita Lakra (Hockey Jharkhand), Gurpreet Kaur (Delhi Hockey), V Sunil Kumar (Kerala Hockey) and Tapan Kumar Das (Assam Hockey).