Walsh stays as India coach, to be given fresh contract

New Delhi: A day after his dramatic announcement to quit, India’s chief hockey coach Terry Walsh on Wednesday decided to continue in his post after a meeting with top sports officials, who have assured the Australian that his concerns will be addressed in a fresh contract.

After a hectic meeting with the Sports Ministry and SAI officials, the 60-year-old Walsh decided not to push for his resignation, much to the relief of the country’s hockey fraternity.

Walsh’s decision was announced by the Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who tweeted, “I am happy that after SAI’s efforts #TerryWalsh is back. Looking ahead for a bright future for hockey in India.”

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) issued a statement, giving details of the meeting and making it clear that Walsh, who guided the Indian team to a historic gold at Incheon Asian Games, had no financial issues with them.

“During the discussion, he made it very clear that he has no problems with regard to the tax deduction or remuneration. His major concern was about the lack of functional autonomy in deciding the technical matters relating to hockey,” SAI DG Jiji Thomson said in a statement.

“He was of the view that he, along with the High Performance Director, need to be given more freedom in the decision making process. From SAI side, we have absolutely no issues on this. This is a matter that needs to be discussed with Hockey India,” he said.

Thomson also said that soon a meeting, under the chairmanship of Sports Minister, will be called to thrash out all the issues.

“We intend to convene a meeting shortly under the Chairmanship of the Hon’ble Minister(i/c), Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs & Sports, wherein, SAI, Ministry of Sports, Hockey India and Terry Walsh for thrashing out this issue.”

Another issue raised by Walsh was about the number of holidays he is entitled to. “This is an issue that could be sorted out and we have expressed our readiness to reconsider the holiday package,” Thomson said. “We have also requested Mr Terry Walsh to help us in preparing a long term athlete development plan for hockey. He has readily expressed his willingness to get the best experts available and prepare this plan,” SAI DG added.

Asked whether Walsh has withdrawn his resignation, Thomson said there was no need for that.

“Walsh has not withdrawn his resignation. As per the contract, he has to give one month notice for resignation. Since the resignation will officially come into effect from 19th November, 2014, it was decided that the contract will be renewed before 19th November, incorporating these clauses. Walsh expressed his satisfaction and appreciation for the steps taken by the Ministry of Sports & SAI and assured his continued support for Indian Hockey.”

Walsh, a noted Olympian himself, had created a flutter yesterday by suddenly announcing his resignation, saying that he was finding it difficult to adjust to the decision-making style of the sporting bureaucracy in the country.

“In addition to my difficulties with not being able to professionally operate within these bureaucratic confines, I am not willing to continue with the constant time away from my family in Australia. My current commitment places too much stress on my personal life,” he had said in his letter to SAI. His resignation sparked off a blame game between Hockey India and SAI. While HI maintained that the pay dispute and suffocating bureaucracy had prompted Walsh to quit, SAI rubbished that claim, saying that the Australian had never complained of any financial issues.

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