Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Director General Jiji Thomson has said that he does not believe Indian hockey coach Terry Walsh resigned due to bureaucratic difficulties. Walsh, however, maintained his stance over the reason for his resignation and told NDTV that he has given a one-month deadline to SAI to sort matters out. The sports ministry is expected to make a decision by Wednesday.
In a press statement on Tuesday, Thomson said: "During my interaction with him in the World Cup Hockey in Hague in June, 2013, we had a brief interaction on the lack of bench strength in Indian hockey. This is a concern which we shared. Other than this he has not made any complaint ever." (Full Text of Terry Walsh's Resignation Letter)
Walsh, whose contract with SAI expires next month, said: "If they want me till the Olympics, they need to get their house in order. Hundred bureaucrats get involved here for any decision. I have given them a one-month deadline to sort matters out. If that is done, I am happy to join the team again." Walsh coached India to a historic Asian Games gold in Incheon earlier this month. The win has given India a direct berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Also read: India win Sultan of Johor Cup for the 2nd time)
Walsh's resignation is becoming a cat-and-mouse game. Hockey India president Narinder Batra is unhappy with SAI's payment policies and has been constantly bombarding Thomson and his team with letters and RTIs. Interestingly, in his statement, Thomson said Walsh was feeling suffocated in the federation. (Also read: Walsh has left Hockey India in the lurch, says Nobbs)
"Today, he (Walsh) made a visit to our office and had met Sudhir Setia, Executive Director (Teams) wherein he expressed his anguish regarding working in a suffocating atmosphere in the federation. We are totally unaware of what happened in Hockey India," said Thomson.
The SAI DG has also rubbished allegations of bureaucracy. "Walsh is talking about bureaucratic difficulty which is not necessarily a problem with SAI but can be a problem with Hockey India or any other federation," said Thomson.
Charges and counter-charges are certainly not helping the cause of Indian hockey. Walsh is clearly upset with the system after being appointed exactly a year ago. Walsh is not the first Australian to quit in a huff. Australian legend Ric Charlesworth, regarded by many as the father of coaching, left on a sour note, apparently angry with SAI officials.
The joy of winning the Asian Games gold is getting tarnished.