IT TOOK almost four months for the Indian Hockey Federation and the Sports Ministry to finalise a contract and a role for Ric Charlesworth in Indian hockey. It may take less than that for him to bid adieu to the whole set up.
It is reliably learnt that Hockey Australia is keen on Charlesworth taking charge of the Australian senior men's team post the Beijing Olympics. The incumbent coach, Barry Dancer, is approaching the end of his seven-year contract period and has already made it clear he is not too keen on continuing.
While Hockey Australia are yet to officially invite applications for a new chief coach —something they always do, in line with their transparency policy —sources say they have already sounded out Charlesworth for the role. In fact, sources say they have already asked Charlesworth to apply for the post.
The Australian, who was coach of the Australian women's team for seven years, is currently in Lucknow with the Indian women's team. When contacted, though Charlesworth refused to say anything about the proposal, he did admit that he could think about it.
"Well, if the prospects are good and the contract and conditions are favourable, of course I might be interested in applying," he told the Hindustan Times. He also confirmed that Dancer has expressed his unwillingness to continue, and that he would definitely consider going back an option.
However, while Dancer's contract runs out after the Olympics (August), Charlesworth's contract here is till March 31. Which means that, if he agrees to coach the Kookaburras, it might clash with his commitments here or worse, cut short his contract.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has repeatedly stressed that it wants Charlesworth to work with Indian hockey till the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but the past few months have cast a doubt over the whole deal.
Charlesworth has repeatedly expressed his displeasure at the shoddy treatment meted out to him by the Indian officials, and the apparent disinterest in utilising his services.
With the Australian job - a seven-year contract - looming large, Charlesworth may well decide enough is enough and call it quits here. If that happens, it would be another blow to Indian hockey.