Charlesworth set to get a bigger role in reviving hockey
Bowing to intense pressure from all quarters following India's failure to qualify for the Olympics, The Indian Hockey Federation is now willing to assign a bigger role to Australian legend Ric Charlesworth who has been called to the capital for a meeting on Monday.
Charlesworth, a former captain and one of the hockey greats, was roped in by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to revive Indian hockey but the IHF had kept him way from the senior team, stating that his contract had not been finalised yet.
The decision to invite Charlesworth for a meeting has been taken by the Sports Ministry after consultations with IHF chief K P S Gill, a development which is seen as a climbdown for the game's governing body.
"The impasse of regularising the appointment of Ric Charlesworth will be finalised at a meeting here on Monday, Sports Ministry sources said here today.
"The signing of contract between Charlesworth, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs and the IHF will take place after the meeting", the sources said.
The matter has remained unresolved since Charlesworth had not responded to the proposals extended to him four months ago.
When contacted for his reaction, IHF chief K P S Gill, told PTI that the matter will be resolved in a few days.
'Yes. The matter will be resolved in a few days' times. Since Charlesworth had not responded, the matter had remained unresolved".
"The Ministry officials have been saying as to how they could invite him when he had not even responded to their offer. They said that they cannot get him to visit India unless he sends his response", Gill said.
Gill also said that neither the Sports Ministry nor the IHF should be blamed or criticized for the delay since no response had come from Charlesworth.
"I have been asked by various people to speak to Sports Ministry officials, who told me that this is the situation. The matter has been pending for a long time. We are getting repeated emails from both Charlesworth and Bob Davidzon of FIH," he said.
Gill said the moment Charlesworth sent his response, the Sports Authority of India officials were requested to arrange tickets for him to come to India.
Both Gill and Sports Ministry officials hoped that the contract and the financial commitments would be finalised based on the negotiations during the meeting.
Charlesworth, meanwhile, confirmed having received a letter from the Sports Ministry to return to India.
"I will be there for the meeting. But if there are no changes in the system, there is no point in having me", he said.
"The entire process has been delayed and I feel my presence could have been useful in Santiago. The team's preparations for the Olympic qualifiers was inadequate. Preparation is critical for any tournament", he added.