Cooper aiming to put focus on grassroots in FIH executive board bid

Inez Cooper is looking to put the FIH’s focus on the sport’s grassroots should she be successful at the world body’s elections on May 22 where she is in the running for a place on the FIH executive board.

The Loreto Hockey Club member has been a key figure in Irish and European hockey for many years having previously played during her time in London with the world’s oldest hockey club, Blackheath for over a decade.

She played an integral role in the formation of the Irish Hockey League in 2008 and its subsequent move to a full season format in 2015.

She was also the brainchild behind bringing Olympic qualifier matches against Canada to Donnybrook’s rugby stadium in 2019 where record crowds for a women’s international sporting event flocked to see the Green Army qualify for Tokyo.

Inez Cooper speaking at an EHF General Assembly. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Cooper joined the European Hockey Federation board in 2013 where she had chaired the Education Committee from 2013 to 2019 before overseeing the Coaches and Officials Committees since 2020.

She has also been a key mentor as part of the EHF’s Female Leadership Forum.

In her professional career, she is currently managing director of Synch Payments, a joint venture bringing together Ireland’s four largest banks to launch an instant mobile payments system and has previous multi-national Executive level experience in Financial Services and Management Consultancy companies.

She will hope to take that range of experience to the FIH board as an ordinary member, vying for a spot on a shortlist of three from which two people will be elected.

Discussing her vision, she says: “A key focus for the next few years needs to be on grassroots – the players, the clubs and all NA’s – build up from the bottom. Healthy roots will lead to a thriving for the future.

“Secondly, we need to close the gaps between the top tier nations and below – we need a competition structure that supports more NA’s playing at the top level, easy movement in a competitive way to drive the sport, increasing numbers broader and deeper.

“Thirdly, we need to increase and diversify the financial revenues at the top, improve the financial position overall and be very focused and targeted in driving funds to development areas, ensuring this in turn has a return.”

The Dubliner says this latest FIH Congress comes at an opportune moment as the FIH faces a number of big challenges with the Covid-19 pandemic offering a rare pause for thought on the sporting treadmill.

She believes it is the perfect time to take a “short and sharp pause” to review where the sport exists in the world.

 “To achieve this vision, we need leadership, focus and governance that organises the hockey community to deliver on multiple aligned objectives at the same time and to engage and communicate, bringing people with us on the journey.”

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