With Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal agreeing in principle to Terry Walsh’s demands, the ball is now in the Australian’s court to take a call on whether to continue as India’s chief hockey coach and the SAI expects him to make up his mind in the next 4-5 days.
In a major setback for Indian hockey, the men’s national team chief coach Walsh yesterday decided to fly back to Australia after his contractual talks with Hockey India and his employer, Sports Authority of India (SAI) broke down.
Walsh, however, insisted that he might rejoin the team before the Champions Trophy and was waiting to receive and study a fresh proposal in the next two days.
But SAI Executive Director (Teams) Sudhir Sethia ruled out sending Walsh any fresh proposal and said they are now waiting to hear from the Australian’s side.
“He met the Sports Minister yesterday and the minister has agreed to all his demands in principle. But he said he wants to go home for a few days. He said he needs a break,” Sethia told PTI.
“We are not going to send any fresh proposal to him. Everything has been discussed in detail. Now he will have to
get back to us.
“He said he will have a re-look at the proposal once he returns to Australia and get back to us with 4-5 days. The ball is in his court now. It is now upto him whether he wants to continue or not,” said Sethia, mincing no words.
Walsh, who replaced fellow Australia Michael Nobbs as India’s chief coach in October last year, had resigned from his post last month, demanding more autonomy and decision making powers.
The Australian’s month-long notice period ends today but he left for Perth without signing a fresh contract after talks between him, SAI and HI failed to make any breakthrough.
Even though the Walsh’s demands have been agreed in principle, his return might not materialise as Hockey India is not too keen on to have him back in the fold.
Differences between Walsh and Hockey India crept up after national president Narinder Batra brought up allegations of financial irregularities against the Australian during his stint with USA Field Hockey.
Walsh, however, has completely denied these allegations and termed them as baseless.
But an official who was present in these talks has indeed confirmed that Walsh’s differences with HI was the bone of contention for the deadlock.
“His demands were not such an issue. He was even ready to compromise on some of his demands. But it is the internal difference between Walsh and Hockey India which really is the main reason for the deadlock,” the official said.
Under Walsh, Indian hockey has made considerable progress in the last one year having qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning the gold in the Incheon Asian Games and rare Test series victory over Australia.