Barely a fortnight after leading India to the Asian Games gold medal, Terry Walsh stepped down as the chief coach of the Indian hockey team on Tuesday. In his resignation letter, Walsh has claimed that the ‘current commitment places too much stress on my personal life.’
However, his resignation has not been accepted by Hockey India and Sports Authority of India (SAI) yet.
The 60-year-old Australian, too, said he is willing to stay back if his contract is re-negotiated by SAI. A senior ministry official said they are open to ‘improving his contract’ but said it was necessary to clear a few ‘nagging issues’.
Sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal has sought a report of the incident by Wednesday evening. “It’s a serious issue. After learning about the development, I have passed on the instructions to SAI director general and secretary sports to explain the reason for the resignation within 24 hours,” he said.
Walsh is likely to meet SAI director general Jiji Thomson and sports secretary Ajit Sharan on Wednesday to re-negotiate his contract. Walsh, who currently earns approximately $12,500 per month, was appointed as the chief coach last year until the Rio Olympics.
However, his contract was subject to annual review next month.
Like his predecessors, Walsh too said he was let down by the system and came down heavily on the bureaucracy, citing it as one of they key reasons for him stepping down from the post. In his letter addressed to Thomson, Walsh said: “I am finding considerable difficulty adjusting to the decision making style of the sporting bureaucracy in India. In addition to my difficulties with not being able to professionally operate within these bureaucratic confines I am not willing to continue with the constant time away from my family in Australia.”
TONING IT DOWN
However, he later reversed his stand, saying he would be open to withdrawing his resignation if the meeting with SAI goes well. “We are right now in a position of re-negotiations and see how it may or may not turnout. Let’s see what happens. We have got a month to solve that,” he said. Walsh’s tenure, however, has been marred by run-ins with the administration, both from SAI and Hockey India. Sources said he was particularly disappointed at not being given free hand over some of the key issues. Both he and high performance director Roelant Oltmans have repeatedly hinted at their positions being undermined, with too much interference in areas ranging from administration to logistics and most importantly, team selection.
Walsh’s surprise decision has added fuel to the fire in the prolonged war of words between Hockey India and SAI. Hockey India president Narinder Batra and Thomson have been on a warpath for the last few months, with Batra accusing the sports ministry of ‘harming’ the sport in the country.
“I could see this coming for quite sometime. There has been issues, there has been frustrations among the foreign staff. There is too much of interference, too much of delay from the government side which has been bothering them. We tried to get things sorted out,” Batra said.
Thomson, however, refuted the claims. Instead, he said Walsh blamed the ‘suffocating’ atmosphere within Hockey India for his resignation during his meeting with SAI Executive Director (teams) Sudhir Setia on Tuesday morning. “I am surprised with his sudden resignation. If he had any issues, he could have discussed with us directly. I will be meeting him on Wednesday and hopefully, sort out the issues,” Thomson said.