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Contrasting reasons behind Terry Walsh's resignation worsen hockey mess

'Contractual arrangements' or 'suffocating atmosphere in the Federation' - what actually led to India hockey coach's shocking decision?

Jaspreet Sahni | http://jaspreet_sahni

Updated:October 21, 2014, 8:24 PM IST
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Contrasting reasons behind Terry Walsh's resignation worsen hockey mess
'Contractual arrangements' or 'suffocating atmosphere in the Federation' - what actually led to India hockey coach's shocking decision?

Without making a mention of Terry Walsh resigning because of displeasure over his contractual arrangements as India's head coach, Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Director General, Jiji Thomson, says Walsh complained of "suffocating atmosphere in the Federation" on his visit to their office.

Confirming that they received Walsh's resignation on October 19, Thomson expressed his surprise and disappointment over the decision, saying that the Australian has never "made any complaint about anything concerning Indian hockey" before October 19.

The only "concern which we shared" during our meeting at The Hague on the sidelines of the World Cup was "lack of bench strength in Indian hockey", Thomson said in his official statement after Walsh's resignation.

Walsh too in his resignation said he isn't happy with the "sporting bureaucracy" in the country. "I am finding considerable difficulty adjusting to the decision-making style of the sporting bureaucracy in India which, I believe, in the long term, is not in the best interests of Indian hockey or its players," he wrote in his letter to SAI.

But confusion crept in and events took a different turn when later, talking to PTI, Walsh mentioned "contractual arrangements" as one of the reasons and even hinted at a possibility of withdrawing his resignation. "I feel I just need to move away from the contents of what presently exists in my contractual arrangements. We [I and SAI] are now looking at the possibility of how that can be reset," Walsh told PTI. But Thomson says Walsh never made any such complaints.

"Other than this [lack of bench strength], he has not made any complaint ever. If Mr Terry Walsh has had any complaint about the functioning of SAI, he would very well came and discussed it with us," Thomson said in his statement later.

Narinder Batra, recently elevated as Hockey India President, hinted that the foreign coaching staff is frustrated due to "too much interference" - without a reference to SAI but making a mention of "delay from the government side".

"I could see this coming for quite some time. There have been issues; there have been frustrations among the foreign staff. There is too much of interference, too much of delay from the government side which has been bothering them. We tried to get things sorted out. There is too much of bureaucracy, too much of paperwork," Batra told PTI.

But, whatever be the reason, just when it looked Indian hockey is getting back on its legs after the Asian Games gold and securing an Olympics berth, it has been knocked on its knees again.

READ: The complete press statement from SAI, followed by Walsh's resignation.

"We are in receipt of the resignation letter dated 19th October, 2014, from Mr. Terry Walsh as Chief Coach of the Indian Men's Hockey Team. We are extremely surprised and disappointed with the sudden resignation of Mr Terry Walsh, one of the finest coaches in world Hockey. We are extremely satisfied with his performance and it was because of his outstanding professional credentials that he was selected as the Chief Coach. He was appointed on 21.10.2013. Ever since then he has not even made any complaint about anything concerning Indian hockey. During my interaction with him in the World Cup Hockey in Hague in the month of June, 2013, we had a brief interaction on the lack of bench strength in Indian Hockey. This is a concern which we shared. Other than this he has not made any complaint ever. If Mr Terry Walsh has had any complaint about the functioning of SAI, he would very well came and discussed it with us.

Today, he made a visit to our office and had met Mr Sudhir Setia, Executive Director (TEAMS) wherein he expressed his anguish regarding working in a suffocating atmosphere in the Federation. We are totally unaware of what happened in Hockey India."

Jiji Thomson
DG, SAI

(Quotes from PTI)

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