Barely a month after guiding India to the Asian Games gold medal, Terry Walsh’s reign as the chief coach might have finally come to an end. Hockey India president Narinder Batra, it is learnt, has informed Walsh that his services will no longer be required.
In an oral communication on Friday, Batra told Walsh, who flew back to Australia on Wednesday, that high performance director Roelant Oltmans will be in charge of the team in the elite eight-nation Champions Trophy tournament that begins in Bhubaneswar on December 6.
Speculations were rife on Saturday that even Walsh had written to Sports Authority of India (SAI) that he won’t be returning to India. However, the Australian categorically denied making any such contact with SAI, saying he will write to the sports minister and update him of the situation only on Monday. “I was given verbal instructions after I rang the president (Batra) that he has put Roelant as in charge of the Champions Trophy team and that I won’t be involved in the tournament,” Walsh said.
Batra had earlier this week said that Hockey India will start the search for a new coach after the Champions Trophy. “Though Walsh has given us some good results, it was not possible to continue with him as he has not been able to prove his innocence in the USA Field Hockey case.”
Walsh has resigned as the chief coach soon after returning from Incheon, where he guided the Indian team to its first gold in 16 years. His notice period ended on Wednesday and he decided not to withdraw his resignation after hours of talks with the stakeholders ended with no solution.
Last week, after the government agreed in principle with the demands made by Walsh in the process of renewing his contract, Batra alleged that the veteran tactician was involved in a ‘financial impropriety’ during his tenure with USA Field Hockey. Walsh has strongly refuted those allegations.
Walsh said he would explore legal options to make Batra retract his statement and said he was sad and confused over the current state of affairs. “At the moment I am confused as to what is happening. But I am hoping things will be resolved. I am not losing hope. I will write to the sports minister on Monday explaining him my position and we’ll see how it goes on from there,” he said.