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India hockey coach van Ass claims he was sacked

Last updated on: July 20, 2015 17:05 IST

India's men's hockey team chief coach Paul van Ass on Monday claimed he was fired by Hockey India following his alleged public altercation with federation president Narinder Batra.

"As far I know I was fired one week after the Hockey World League semi-finals in Antwerp. Roelant Oltmans (High Performance Director) was asked to replace me," Van Ass told PTI from the Netherlands.

"I have been told on January 13 that Dr Batra doesn't want me to be the coach any more. Roelant called me and informed me about this.

"I am yet to get official confirmation but I expect it to get it by the end of this week. That is precisely the reason why I didn't turn up for the camp," the Dutchman added.

Van Ass's future with the Indian team was in serious doubt after he failed to report on time for the national team's camp at the scenic Sports Authority of India's centre in Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh, on Sunday.

The theory that the Dutchman won't be continuing as the coach gathered steam when he failed to submit his report on India's performance at the recently-concluded World Hockey League semi-finals in Antwerp, Belgium.

According to media reports, Van Ass had a public spat with Hockey India president Batra after the quarter-final match against Malaysia.

Asked about the possible reason behind his unceremonious ouster, he replied: "There is no reason, they will find a reason now."

He believes that the public spat with Batra was the main reason for his ouster.

"After our win over Malaysia Dr Batra came on the pitch and spoke to players in Hindi. I thought he was commending the players, but, instead, it turned out he was criticising the players," he said.

"Then I jumped and because pitch is my area and I need to protect my players. Also I felt we played quite well in that match and won it."

A hurt Van Ass, however, said if asked he is still willing to resume his duties in India.

"Don't ask me anything, ask Hockey India. I didn't step aside... I was asked to go.

"I have no problem," was his reaction when asked if he is eager to return to India.

"I have never stepped out."

Incidentally, this is not the first time that a foreign coach of the Indian men's hockey team has left the country on a sour note.

Van Ass's predecessors, Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh -- all of whom were hired by the SAI on the recommendation of Hockey India at hefty salaries -- left the country on an unceremonious note.

Van Ass, who was appointed at the end of January this year, was awarded a three-year contract till 2018.

India will host the 2018 men's Hockey World Cup.

The World League semi-finals in Antwerp, earlier this month, was Van Ass's only second assignment with the Indian team.

As a player, Van Ass had limited international experience but as a coach he led the Netherlands to an Olympic silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics after being given charge of the Dutch team in 2010.

He took over as coach of the Indian team after the post remained vacant for little over three months following Walsh's sudden resignation just three weeks after guiding India to the Asian Games gold medal after a hiatus of 16 years.

Hockey India and his employer Sports Authority of India did not confirm the development.

Image: India hockey coach Paul van Ass.

Photograph: Hockey India

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