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2014 World Cup will be Terry Walsh’s litmust test

Suhrid Barua
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Feature
1.46K   //    15 Oct 2013, 11:48 IST
Terry Welsh during his stint as Australia's coach in 2000

Terry Walsh during his stint as Australia’s coach in 2000

Another Australian is all set to take over as coach of the Indian men’s hockey team after the exit of Michael Nobbs. Terry Walsh will have his hands full given the slew of big-ticket events lined up over the next twelve months.

The 59-year-old Australian has been given the go-ahead by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the ball is now in the Sports Ministry’s court. Clearly, Walsh’s appointment is bit hard to swallow in the wake of the national team dishing out a pugnacious performance at the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh, where India capped off a runners-up finish under ‘caretaker’ coach Roelant Oltmans, who is Hockey India’s High Performance Manager.

One is not sure what went behind the scenes – did Hockey India toy with the idea of having Oltmans as head coach of the men’s team or was the high-profile Dutch coach keen to assume extra responsibility besides his HPM role?

Hockey fans thought the national team jelled as a unit with Oltmans at the helm in Ipoh, and persisting with him would have been a forward-looking move, not that appointing Terry Walsh is a backward move by any stretch of imagination.

A prolific striker of the seventies and eighties, Terry Walsh has donned the Australian jersey with pride and passion – he was part of the silver-winning Kookaburras at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and emerged as the leading goal-scorer in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

His CV speaks volumes about his pedigree – he made 175 international appearances and hung up his hockey stick after playing a part in Australia winning the 1986 World Cup in London – in fact, he scored one of the two goals in the final against Germany.

His coaching credentials are as good as his playing career. He coached the Kookaburras from 1997-2000 – guiding them garner a bronze at the Sydney Olympics. The Western Australian shepherded the Netherlands to a silver-medal effort at the 2004 Athens Olympics as well as helping them bag a silver medal at the 2004 Champions Trophy.

He also had a three-year coaching stint with the Malaysian team in the early nineties (1990-93). Walsh last served as the technical director of USA hockey before stepping down from that role last year.

Quite obviously, Walsh is a much bigger fish to net for SAI or Hockey India than it probably was to rope in Michael Nobbs. Nobbs had received a monthly salary of $11000 (AUS) (approximately Rs 75 lakh), but it learnt that Walsh is asking for close to $15,000 per month besides other benefits to take up the job.

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Getting into the brass-tacks, it remains to be seen how much time Terry Walsh has on hand to prepare the Indian team for our next international assignment – 3rd Asian Champions Trophy – which is barely two weeks away (to be held in Japan from November 2).

The Hockey World Final League slated to be held in January will be Walsh’s next big challenge – his litmus test will be the 2014 World Cup to be held in the Hague, the Netherlands in May-June.

Strictly speaking, even if the Sports Ministry gives its green signal to SAI’s recommendation for Walsh’s appointment, he will hardly have time to settle down with the boys for the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy. Or will it be a case of Oltmans taking charge of the national team as ‘caretaker’ coach for the 3rd Asian Champions Trophy if Walsh is not able to link up with the side in time for that tourney?

The Aussie will have practically six months or little less of that to prepare the national team for the 2014 World Cup – the moot question is the six months time adequate enough for him to deliver? Only time will tell.

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Suhrid Barua
FEATURED COLUMNIST
I am a passionate sports journalist/blogger who is madly in love with cricket,football, hockey, boxing, wrestling, badminton, like to follow all sports
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