Reports: Hockey India President Narinder Batra confronts coach Paul van Ass
The Indian men’s hockey team head coach Paul van Ass is yet to return to India from his official leave. Van Ass departed for Netherlands from Belgium as soon as the Hockey World League(HWL) semis concluded.
But according to the Indian Express, Van Ass had an on-field argument with Mr. Narinder Batra, who is the President of Hockey India, just after the quarter-final clash against the Malaysians. India, ranked 9th in the world, were trailing the team 3 places below them, 2-1 with little over 10 minutes to go. However, Van Ass’ side won the match with the help of two late goals by Jasjit Singh via penalty corners.
The Indian Express reported a source saying that the spat happened when the players were performing their cooling down exercises after their closely-contested win. Mr. Batra approached the players and told them that they need to improve their game and reprimanded the coach to sit together with his team captain and work out on new strategies for the future.
“He was unhappy with the team’s performance. After the match, as the players were undergoing their cool-down exercises, Batra came near the dug-out and told the players that the performances needed to improve. He also suggested that the coach and captain should sit together and chart the way forward,” the Indian Express reported the source as saying.
The Dutchman reminded Batra that the HI President is not the coach of the team and hence does not have the authority to talk to the players on the field. However, Mr. Batra was not amused with Van Ass’ behaviour and warned the 54-year-old that he needs to behave himself before making an exit from the scene.
The source continued, “Van Ass wasn’t happy that Batra was talking to the players directly after the match. He reminded Batra that he was the coach and on field, only he had the authority to talk to the players. Batra was left red-faced and he eventually left but he told Van Ass that his behaviour was not acceptable.”
However, when asked to explain, Mr. Batra denied that any incident like this ever happened.
“I can’t recall anything like that happening. It did not happen,” he was reported by Indian Express as saying.
It was earlier expected that the head coach Van Ass would be returning from his break and join the team in their training camp at Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh from 18th July. However, with this news filtering in, it remains to be seen whether the Dutchman’s break was indeed a holiday or if the national side will see another change in coaches.