Hockey New Zealand today announced the appointment of Ian Francis as its Chief Executive, following six months in the acting role.

Chairman Dean Ellwood said that during his time as Acting Chief Executive, Francis had clearly demonstrated his ability to step into the organisation's top job.

"Hockey New Zealand's board has conducted a robust and extensive recruitment process to ensure we have the best person to lead the sport in the implementation of its ambitious 2020 strategy," Ellwood said.

"We saw some very high-calibre applicants, however Ian's leadership and achievements in recent months have demonstrated he is the right person, and the Board is confident he will be well supported by the wider hockey and sporting community."

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Francis joined Hockey New Zealand five and a half years ago, and has since played an integral role in driving the sport's growth, as General Manager Community Sport and Events.

His achievements include a 28% increase in junior hockey participation over the past five years through the introduction of a nationwide Small Sticks programme, and delivery of a number of successful events including the top-tier FIH Owen G Glenn Champions Trophy in 2011.

In his role as Acting Chief Executive, Francis led the completion of Hockey New Zealand's strategic planning process, culminating in the adoption of an ambitious plan to become the 'world's best hockey nation' by 2020.

Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin said he was very pleased for hockey, as Francis has done a wonderful job growing the game and running international tournaments.

Miskimmin was confident that the sport would be taken forward under Francis' leadership.

Francis said he was looking forward to guiding the organisation and the sport of hockey into the next stage of its evolution, both in New Zealand and internationally.

"I'm thrilled to have been given the exciting opportunity to lead Hockey New Zealand, and I look forward to the road ahead," he said.

"We are a very successful sport from grassroots right through to high performance, and we will continue working towards our lofty goal of becoming the world's best hockey nation."