Indian hockey players have been left in limbo again as chief coach Paul van Ass saying on Monday that he has been sacked by Hockey India (HI), even as its president Narinder Batra refuted the claims.
Batra stated that a committee will meet on Friday and a decision is expected to be made on Saturday.
"There has been no termination. HI has been in touch with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) over the same. A special HI committee will meet on Friday after which their decision will be made public on Saturday. The committee will evaluate the performance of not just the men's but the women's team too," Batra told IANS.
But if we go back into the history of Hockey India, a number of foreign coaches' tenures have come to a premature end. So, if van Ass has indeed been sacked, one should not be surprised. Michael Nobbs, Jose Brasa, Ric Charlesworth and Gerhard Rach were the foreign coaches who suffered the same fate at the hands of Hockey India.
Initially one thought that van Ass was sacked as he was not on time for the national camp in Himachal Pradesh, but that seems to be far from the truth, as the Dutchman claimed that Hockey India did not want him to be present in the camp and did not send him a ticket.
The root of the sacking seems to lie in Antwerp, Belgium, after India defeated Malaysia in the Hockey World League. Batra was delivering a team talk after the match and van Ass asked the president to vacate the pitch, which Batra did, according to Firstpost. The HI president was not happy with the behaviour meted out to him.
"They can sack me, it's in their power. But don't blame me -- they asked me not to be there [at national camp in Himachal Pradesh] and they didn't send me a ticket. The reason I'm not there is because they didn't want me to be there [after the HWL]. You have to ask Batra [on the spat]. I cannot handle that [interfering]," Van Ass told NDTV.
Amongst all the drama, it is the players of the India team, who are at a loss as they are not aware of what the future holds for them. India were performing decently under the guidance of van Ass and the Dutchman was expected to deliver the goods at the 2016 Olympics and help the team bring home a medal.
With the news of the sacking escalating to such a scale, one wonders if van Ass will be asked to stay. The matter has to be resolved with the Rio Olympics just a year away.
The players are desperate for the situation to be resolved as well and one of them feels high performance director Roelant Oltmans, who shares a good rapport with the players, should be the coach till the Olympics.
"We are used to having Oltmans around for the past couple of years. He is respected by the players and shares a good rapport. Ideally he should be our coach now until the Olympics. Otherwise it is going to be tough for us to get used to another new coach," TOI quoted a player as saying.