'I was not in India for money. By God's grace I have earned enough in my lifetime to lead a healthy and good life'
'As a coach I was not just interested in going to the Olympics. I wanted to create a magic and the boys were pretty fired up for the job'
Paul van Ass, who claims he was fired as chief coach of India’s men’s hockey team following an altercation with Hockey India president Narinder Batra, says he is willing to resume duties provided there is no "interference" in his work.
The Dutchman, who took charge of the team only five months back, had alleged on Monday that he was "fired" by Hockey India following a spat with Batra after the quarter-final match against Malaysia in the World League Semi-finals in Antwerp, Belgium, earlier this month.
After the episode, a fuming Batra constituted a special committee, headed by Olympian Harbinder Singh, to a take a call on the coach's future by July 24.
Asked if he is ready to rejoin the Indian team if asked to do so, van Ass said from Rotterdam: "It's too early to jump the gun. Let's wait and see. The fact is I am not welcome any more. For sure I have been sacked just a week after the tournament (in Antwerp). I am just waiting for the official word.
"But whatever happens I am okay. I have never quit the job. I have never said I have quit. What can you do if you are fired?
"But if am asked to return I am fine. But before that we will have lots of discussion. I am just very straight. My position is simple 'don't interfere in my primary process'."
A day after van Ass claimed that he was sacked by Hockey India, Batra hit back at him, saying "Van Ass is not a good coach" and was "rude".
Reacting to Batra's remarks, the outspoken Dutchman said: "He cannot judge what he doesn't know. It's useless. Such remarks prove that he doesn't know the game, but I am least interested in all these.
"I am not bothered about his opinion. It is not serious. What was serious was that all the blame was being put on my head by saying that I haven't reported for the camp. But the fact is I was never supposed to join the camp as I had already been sacked," he said.
Van Ass took over the coaching job of the Indian team just five months ago. If he is relived of his duty, he will become the fourth foreign coach to be shown the door unceremoniously ever since Hockey India took over the reins of the game in the country in 2009.
Van Ass's predecessors, Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh -- all of whom were hired by Sports Authority of India on the recommendations of Hockey India at hefty salaries – also left the country on an unceremonious note.
The Dutchman, however, made it clear that he was not in India because of the money but to create a "magic" in next year's Rio Olympics.
"I was not in India for money. By God's grace I have earned enough in my lifetime to lead a healthy and good life," Van Ass said.
"What excited me about the India job was Olympics. But as a coach I was not just interested in going to the Olympics. I wanted to create a magic and the boys were pretty fired up for the job. That's the ultimate fun.
"It was possible to get a medal (in the Olympics) and it could have been done."
Van Ass, who was appointed at the end of January this year, was awarded a three-year contract till 2018. The World League Semi-finals in Antwerp, earlier this month, was his second assignment with the Indian team.
Asked about his time with the team, he replied: "I had spent some wonderful time with the boys. They are naturally gifted as all Indian hockey players. We also had decent results in the tournaments I was in charge."