(Photo: FIH)

Last Sunday, my dear friend Luís Jorge Ciancia passed away in Buenos Aires at the age of 62. I have known Luís for more than 40 years, during which time we shared great hockey moments and a fierce and loyal friendship. Let me please take this opportunity to honour his memory.

Among the many messages that relevant hockey personalities have posted on Twitter, let me please borrow Sergio Vigil’s tweet: “Luís departed, but his love and teachings will forever remain in our souls, transcending his death”. It is clear to me that Sergio’s tweet reveals a widespread feeling among all who shared hockey experiences with Luís. 

Whether in Argentina, Spain, Chile or Portugal, his passion for the game and his articulated manner of transforming game concepts into teachable words, have left a deep and transcendent imprint.

Luis is credited as the founder of the Argentina’s high performance and talent development program that has led to numerous results, and to the sporting and media phenomena of Las Leonas. He called Sergio Vigil to become the Leonas’ coach, and Sergio led the team to World Cup victory in 2002. 

Even if his role as Head Coach or Technical Director of the federation is well acknowledged, his best personal memories in hockey come from his time spent coaching the Argentina men’s team. As he told me many times, defeating Pakistan 3-1 in the 1986 World Cup, was his treasured hockey memory. That game included players such as Marcelo Garraffo, Alejandro Verga, Sergio Vigil and Gabriel Minadeo. All have gone on to become notable coaches in their own right, carrying on Luís Ciancia’s legacy in Argentina and everywhere they have coached.

Luís was undoubtedly an outspoken character, a trait that earned him esteem and reservations in equal measure. However, none can dispute that he always spoke the truth, kept his word, and never deceived a friend.

I will miss Luís very much and the world of hockey has lost a coach from a golden generation; among them Whitaker, Lissek, Aggiss. These coaches managed to adapt and move forwards with the numerous changes in the game – rules, surfaces – and set the tone for our game's future.

As President of the FIH and on behalf of the hockey family, I convey my deepest condolences to Luís Ciancia’s family and friends, with the assurance that his friendship, his presence and his hockey teachings will always remain with those who knew him. I will be always proud to say: "I have been a friend of Luís".