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India men's hockey coach Terry Walsh quits

Last updated on: November 18, 2014 17:16 IST
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Terry WalshTerry Walsh quit as coach of India’s men’s hockey team on Tuesday after his demand for greater say in team decisions and hand-picked support staff were not met by Hockey India and the Sports Authority of India.

The 60-year-old Australian, who guided India to the men's hockey gold at the Incheon Asian Games, could, however, return soon if his requirements are addressed in a fresh proposal that will be sent to him in a day or two.

Walsh had resigned on October 19, claiming that bureaucracy hurdles prevented him from working independently, but changed his mind and returned to his job two days later.

His contract officially expires on November 19, just before the Champions Trophy, which will be staged in Bhubaneshwar, from December 6 to 14.

‘I hereby tender my resignation as the Chief Coach, Indian Men's Hockey Team, effective as per the details of my contract or as agreed to by all concerned parties,’ said Walsh, in a letter sent to SAI Director General Jiji Thomson, on October 19.

‘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 it's players,’ added the Australian, under whom India also won a silver at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Negotiating to stay on board, he even met with Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday morning but the talks were inconclusive, prompting him to head back to Australia without withdrawing his resignation.

Walsh, who was present at a press conference, said he is still optimistic about coaching the Indian team and that the fresh proposal would address all his demands.

It was unlikely that he would continue after after reports emerged that he had developed serious differences with Hockey India president Narinder Batra.

Batra had alleged that Walsh had indulged in "financial fraud" during his stint with USA Hockey and he was reluctant to keep the Australian on board.

If Walsh does not return, it will be a huge setback for Indian hockey considering that the men's team has done well under him.

The team recently won the Asian Games gold medal after a gap of 16 years, which also earned it qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Before that, the team won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games and, most recently, defeated World champions Australia in an away Test series.

Earlier, a three-member panel had been formed to look into Walsh's demands but it failed to come to any "conclusion".

The panel, comprising former hockey captains Ajit Pal Singh, Ashok Kumar and Zafar Iqbal met Walsh, Hockey India Performance Director Roelant Oltmans and Sports Authority of India officials twice but could not come up with a solution to end the logjam.

Apart from a greater say in decisions and support staff of his choice, Walsh has also sought 120 days paid leave in a year during which he has committed to stay available over video conference for players.

Image: Terry Walsh

Photograph: FIH

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