Within days of returning with the triumphant Indian team from Perth, Terry Walsh is back in Australia, probably never to return again as India's chief hockey coach. The sports minister and the Sports Authority of India may want Walsh to stay, but Hockey India is not keen to have the Aussie back. Walsh's year-long contract with SAI expires on Wednesday.
Walsh is eyeing the job of the High Performance Manager in Australian hockey and given his health, advancing age and wish to spend more time at home and family, working Down Under looker a much better bet. Among many of his demands to SAI, Walsh reportedly wants four months leave with pay with an option to coach via video-conferencing. (Indian hockey will suffer without Walsh: Oltmans)
While it will be difficult for SAI to justify such an exceptional demand, especially when it employs several other foreign coaches, allegations of financial fraud heaped on Walsh by Hockey India president Narinder Batra will make it difficult for the Aussie to work in a hostile atmosphere. Freedom by his employers SAI is not good enough.
Michael Nobbs, the man who was replaced by Walsh last year, feels the current events around the chief coach were "unfortunate". Nobbs resigned last year on health grounds. He was under pressure too after Indian finished last in the 2012 London Olympics.
"I have read media reports of Dr Batra questioning Walsh about financial irregularities from the USA. Dr Batra is running an exemplary association and will not tolerate anyone who brings discredit to Hockey India," Nobbs said, indicating the Walsh-Hockey India honeymoon was as good as over.
Nobbs feels this was the best time for India to switch to an Indian chief coach.
"Indian coaches have been with us over that last five-six years. So they know the modern methodology. There is no need to worry if Walsh doesn't return," Nobbs told sports.ndtv.com from Sydney on Wednesday.
India's next big assignment will be the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar from December 6-14. Nobbs feels this will be a good opportunity to have an Indian coach in the hotseat. "(MK) Kaushik is a smart coach and Jude Felix has been impressive. They can take the team forward very easily," said Nobbs.
Nobbs feels India are looking in great shape in recent times. "They are a very experienced side with several players having more than 100 caps. Since India have qualified for the Olympics there is far less pressure on the team. This is the right time for an Indian coach to take over and prepare till Rio," feels Nobbs.
The Champions Trophy will be a good test for a high-flying Indian team that won the Asian Games in Incheon and then defeated an experimental Australian team 3-1 in Perth earlier this month. "Quite a few top teams won't be at full strength in the Champions Trophy. So this is a great opportunity for a transformation," said Nobbs.