Terry Walsh takes U-turn, to stay on as India's hockey coach
A day after his resignation as chief coach caused an upheaval in Indian hockey and triggered a blame game between sports administrators, Terry Walsh was persuaded to continue on Wednesday on a promise of a vastly better contract.
The former Australia great held a meeting with Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General, Jiji Thomson, and executive director (teams), Sudhir Sethia, with sports minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, besides Indian hockey’s Dutch high performance director, Roelant Oltmans also joining in.
Later, Walsh, Oltmans and Hockey India president, Narendra Batra met separately. The HI chief released a list of items agreed to by the SAI top brass for the development of Indian hockey in the meeting with Walsh.
EYE ON OLYMPICS
Following the settlement, Walsh is now expected to stay on until India’s campaign in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Walsh took India to their first Asian Games title in 16 years with a win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the final at Incheon. Although his resignation was made public on Tuesday, Walsh had hinted that a better pay packet could persuade him to stay on.
The SAI will give the fresh contract on November 19, when his current one-year deal ends. He will be considered to be on notice until then. As per the new deal, Walsh will enjoy 120 days of ‘working stay’ in Australia, allowing the 60-year-old time to be with his family.
With the crisis blowing over, Walsh will be travelling with the national team on the tour of Australia beginning on October 30 and will supervise its Champions Trophy campaign in Bhubaneswar next month.
Sonowal tweeted the outcome after the meeting, “I am happy that after SAI’s efforts #TerryWalsh is back. Looking ahead for a bright future for hockey in India.”
Thomson said Walsh had not exactly withdrawn his resignation.
“Since we never accepted his resignation, the question of its withdrawal does not arise. As per his contract, Walsh had to give us a month’s notice period which he gave today,” he told PTI.
“We had a fruitful meeting. The issues which he had raised can easily be solved and we have assured him that they will be solved before his contract expires on November 19. We will issue him a new contract, which will take into consideration all his demands.”
The HI, in its release, explained that the SAI had agreed to leave the budget for operations under the control of Oltmans, and the full amount would be transferred to the Hockey India account. The federation and SAI had been at loggerheads before the Asian Games over funding.
Oltmans has also been given a wider role that is expected to cut delays in purchase of equipment while the team would be allowed to purchase air tickets on the shortest route, which would ease the earlier problem of teams having to take roundabout routes due to the manner in which tickets were booked.
The SAI has also agreed that if Oltmans submitted a development team programme, it would finance it.