A fearsome striker of his generation who is now regarded as a great thinker of the game,Australia’s Terry Walsh has been appointed as the chief coach of the men’s hockey team on Tuesday.
The former Australia and Holland coach was chosen from a shortlist of four candidates,according to Hockey India officials,and is expected to take charge of the side from next week. Walsh,who will replace compatriot Michael Nobbs,will draw salary of approximately Rs 7 lakh per month apart from the additional perks.
Interestingly,Walsh was the first-ever foreigner to have been approached by India for the post of chief coach in 2000. Back then,the erstwhile governing body of the game,Indian Hockey Federation,was in talks with him but things failed to materialise. Ever since,he has been among the favourites to be appointed India coach as his name cropped up in 2005,2008,2010 and now.
What seems to have worked in Walsh’s favour,apart from the experience and reputation,is his knowledge about the Dutch system. Hockey India’s High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans has insisted on developing a system that is uniform and effective in the long run. Walsh’s understanding of Oltmans’s plan for Indian hockey and the Dutch set-up,thanks to his stint there in 2004,ultimately helped him get the job.
India are scheduled to play in five major tournaments next year: the World League finals,World Cup,Commonwealth Games,Asian Games and Champions Trophy. And the Australian was in no illusion of the challenge that awaits him. “The opportunity to head the Indian coaching team is extremely humbling. Coaching India must be regarded as the greatest challenge in the hockey world…I look forward to it,” he said in a media release.
Both as a player and coach,Walsh’s credentials certainly can’t be challenged. A contemporary of Australian great Ric Charlesworth,Walsh was a key member of the all-conquering Australian squad of the 1980s. He has represented Australia 175 times and played in four World Cups and three Olympics. He was a part of the silver medal winning Australian side at the Montreal Games in 1976.
As a coach too,he has had a distinguished career. He had a longish stint with the Malaysia in the 1990s. In 1997,he became the chief coach of Australia and under him,the Kookaburras won Commonwealth Games in 1998,Champions Trophy in 1999 and a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Four years later,he returned to the Olympics as coach of the Dutch team and helped them win the silver medal at the Athens Games.
Oltmans,who was Walsh’s successor at Holland,is believed have played a key role in the Australian’s appointment as the chief coach of the Indian team. “It’s good news for Indian hockey. Terry has proved himself in different conditions and on various occasions on the big stage,” Oltmans said. “He is very keen to get started here and is aware about the challenges that face us. We have discussed a few things already and very soon,we’ll get started.”
The only concern regarding Walsh’s appointment is that he has been away from mainstream hockey for last eight years serving as the technical director for USA hockey from 2005 to 2012.
That has prompted a certain section of experts to label him as ‘out of date’ but Oltmans has dismissed such concerns.
The Dutchman said Walsh still remains one of the best thinkers of the game and has been closely associated with Australian hockey of late.
“Yes,it is true that he has not been a part of major international tournaments in the last few years because he was associated with USA hockey. However,I have met him at several competitions and his knowledge and understanding of the game still remains top notch. Plus in the last few months,he has been working closely with Ric Charlesworth with the Australian hockey team as well. It’s a decision we have taken after a lot of thought and we believe he is the right man for the job,” Oltmans said.
Walsh,past and Present
Walsh was the first-ever foreigner to have been approached by India for the post of chief coach in 2000.
Key member of the all-conquering Australian squad of the 1980s.
Represented Australia 175 times. He was a part of the silver medal winning Australian side at the Montreal Games in 1976.
Worked as Technical Director with USA Field Hockey 2005-2012.
Head coach of the Australian national team from 1997-2000. Under him,they won Commonwealth Games (1998),Champions Trophy (1999) and a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games (2000).
Was the head coach of the Netherlands hockey team that won silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Is an International Hockey Federation (FIH) Master Coach.