Ric Charlesworth's honeymoon with Indian hockey is finally over. The former Australian player and Hockeyroos coach resigned as consultant and has reportedly left for home - dejected and disappointed with a system that put a number of roadblocks in his path, preventing him from fulfilling his role in leading Indian hockey's revival.
With the ad-hoc committee taking over the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) reins from the KPS Gill-led body, Charlesworth's position was in the doldrums and the Australian legend was not sure either of his role or with whom to interact.
'Can't function in this scenario'
Fed up with all this, the Australian five-time Olympian finally sent a mail to the IHF ad-hoc committee member and Indian Olympic Association secretary-general Randhir Singh, the Sports Ministry and Sports Authority of India --- the three stake-holders with whom he had signed a deal — telling them he wouldn't be able to continue in this situation.
"Charlesworth sent a mail saying he couldn't function in the current scenario. He was not happy with a lot of things including his salary," said Randhir Singh.
Injeti Srinivas, joint-secretary (sports), too confirmed the news. "He tendered his resignation a few weeks back. I don't know the exact situation now and I won't be able to give you any more information," Srinivas said.
We spoke to him: Sher Khan
Though other members of the ad-hoc committee claimed they knew nothing about this, chief national selector Aslam Sher Khan said that they held two meetings with Charlesworth trying to convince him.
"We tried to persuade him not to leave. We told him that we have a new set-up in place and want to work for the betterment of Indian hockey.
The ad-hoc committee tried its best to convince him but he was totally dejected with the system in which he was appointed by someone and had to report to some other people," Sher Khan said.
"We tried to tell him that things function in this manner in India but his concerns would be taken care of. However, he was not convinced despite our best efforts," he said.
Meeting next week
IOA president Suresh Kalmadi said that a decision on Charlesworth's resignation would be taken after the meeting with an FIH delegation in Hyderabad next week. The meeting will decide on the fate of the 2010 World Cup, which was provisionally awarded to India.
One of the conditions put up by the FIH for awarding the World Cup was implementing the project Promoting Indian Hockey, under which Charlesworth was appointed consultant. But now with Charlesworth quitting, it is to be seen what stand the FIH takes.
Charlesworth's resignation may now jeopardise the IHF's plans of hosting the mega event aimed at raising the profile of the sport in India.
Charlesworth was last seen in Hyderabad on Wednesday where he visited the junior national camp at Gacchibowli, the venue for the sixth Asia Cup junior hockey tournament. He reportedly left for Melbourne to attend a marriage.
Going by his comments in the local media, it seems Charlesworth was frustrated with the current imbroglio and the set up in India. "No way can I work in the present scenario. I had told KPS Gill that the system needs to be changed, but that didn't happen or will happen," he was quoted as saying.
The crisis should be handled in a professional manner.
“I thought it (the Olympic debacle) will act like a catalyst for Indian hockey, but unfortunately other events have conspired." Sources in Chandigarh where Charlesworth was based said that the Aussie coach had informed that he would go to Australia and return by month-end.
That looks unlikely now
However, Kalmadi expressed the hope that the Australian would re-think his decision. "He is our consultant coach and we should have created a healthy working atmosphere for him.
We would like to tell him that we are here to put things right, and whatever has happened in the past should be forgotten.
(With inputs from Indraneel Das & Ajai Masand in Delhi and Saurabh Duggal in Chandigarh)