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Former coach Terry Walsh criticises Hockey India for Van Ass fiasco

The former head coach of the senior men's Indian hockey team tell his views on Van Ass's sacking and the problems in working with Hockey India.

Terry Walsh
Former Indian men’s team head coach Terry Walsh

The Indian men’s hockey team’s former head coach Terry Walsh said that he was saddened by how Hockey India treats their coaches at a professional level. Paul van Ass was relieved of his duties just 5 months into his role as the head coach of the senior men's hockey team.

DNA reported Walsh as saying, “This (Van Ass' sacking) is potentially destabilising for the Indian hockey team.”

Paul van Ass was the fourth head coach whom Hockey India sacked after taking command of the sport in India in 2009. Before Van Ass, Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh were shown the door in the same unceremonious fashion.

Walsh believes that there is enough time left for the new coach to come in and prepare the team to perform well at the Rio Olympics. He added, “With appropriate preparation and training, this squad is capable of an outstanding Olympic performance. There may even be a medal opportunity in Rio if all is put together properly and opportunities are grasped. But realistically, though, that will now be very tough.”

Gurbaj's omission surprises Walsh

Walsh was also surprised to see Gurbaj Singh’s omission from the senior Indian squad for the upcoming European tour. According to Walsh, Gurbaj is the key player in the squad and an important part of the squad. The 26-year-old was omitted from the squad on disciplinary grounds just before the team was going to be announced.

He revealed his surprise at Gurbaj’s exclusion, “It surprises me that issues are again being had with Gurbaj. I found him to be an outstanding component of our team. Without key players like Gurbaj, the task becomes seriously more difficult.”

Terry Walsh himself was sacked from his head coach job after Hockey India President Dr. Narinder Batra accused him of financial impropriety during his tenure as technical director USA Field Hockey, claims which were later rebuffed. Walsh described that incident as “sad and disturbing”.

“My difficulties revolved around the administrative process. The players and staff were a pleasure to work for and with. The office staff were also extremely helpful and I made very strong friendships with the players, coaches and office staff during my time in India,” he said.

My integrity was unfairly tarnished

Walsh also felt that his integrity was questioned as the claims were false and had nothing to do with him. 

“What transpired through Mr. Batra's narcissistic behaviour and accusations was very sad. There is always a first for everything, but this period was a shock and seemed totally unnecessary. Yes, it was a very sad and emotional time in my career. Mr. Batra accused me falsely of financial impropriety and my integrity was unfairly tarnished,” Walsh said.

He even described the fall of Indian hockey as a “systematic failure” and criticised the methods used by Hockey India officials in interacting and working with the foreign coaches.

Terry Walsh was the head coach of this Indian side when they booked their spot for the 2016 Olympics. The Australian coached his side to the Gold at Incheon Asian Games in 2014 by beating Pakistan in the final.

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