Indian hockey is in a precarious position at the moment with its chief coach Terry Walsh having quit in a huff and the prestigious FIH Champions Trophy close at hand (December 6-14 in Bhubaneswar).
Terry Walsh arrives for a meeting with Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonwal in New Delhi on Tuesday. Pic/Getty Images
This despite having touched the heights of success only recently, winning gold at the Incheon Asian Games after 16 years and then upsetting world champions Australia 3-1 in their own backyard in a four-Test series. However, Hockey India president Narinder Batra is unfazed. That's because he refuses to credit Walsh alone for the team's success.
"I believe 50 percent of the credit for the Indian team's recent success must go to Roelant Oltmans (high performance director), 30 percent goes to Walsh and 20 percent to the Indian coaches assisting him. Walsh is not solely responsible for India's recent achievements. In fact, the Australian team that we beat did not have seven of their regular players and instead had a host of juniors because they were in a process of experimentation before the Champions Trophy.
I'm not undermining our achievement, yes it is a confidence-booster to beat Australia, but we should not go overboard in our praise and hail Walsh in the bargain," Batra told mid-day yesterday.
Walsh's stint over
Walsh resigned after his contractual talks with Hockey India and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) failed on Tuesday, with reports suggesting that a fresh proposal was still being worked out for the Australian. However, sources confirmed to mid-day that the government has accepted Walsh's resignation yesterday, thereby snapping his association with Indian hockey for good.
There were also reports suggesting that Walsh was involved in financial fraud during his stint with USA Hockey. However, the bone of contention in Walsh's ouster was his demand of 120 days paid leave which Batra said was unrealistic.
"When I spoke to Ajit Pal Singh (chairman of the three-member committee appointed to look into Walsh's demands) I told him very clearly that Walsh's current salary is USD 16,000 per month above which he's asking a raise of 10 percent, taking it to almost USD 18,000. Then he also wants 120 days leave to be in Australia during which he claims he will be available via videoconferencing.
That equals USD 72,000. So, we would be paying Walsh around R3,60,000 per month for the entire year to sit at home (USD 72,000 / 12 months = USD 6,000 = R3,60,000 per month) and control Indian hockey via remote control. This is ridiculous. Oltmans had drawn up a programme wherein Walsh would have to be present in India for 47 weeks out of a 52-week plan. Basically, Walsh simply had no loyalty for this Indian team and Indian hockey is better off without him," concluded Batra.