New Delhi: The ongoing drama over the “sacking” of India hockey coach Paul van Ass just five months into the job has thrown up a host of questions. As coaches continue to be changed and chopped van Ass is the fourth in five years to be shown the door and the national team suffers in its wake, those at the top are left unshaken. Hockey India president Narinder Batra, who claims that van Ass has not been sacked yet, even termed the Olympic and World Cup silver medal-winning Dutchman “a poor coach” and has called for a meeting on Friday to decide on the latter’s future.
Former coach Jose Brasa who led India to medals in the 2010 Commonwealth and the Asian Games called for HI officials to “come out of the stone age era” and “save their country’s hockey”.“The solution to India’s problem is very easy. Paul van Ass is an outstanding coach and must come back to India, and Narinder Batra has to resign,” Brasa said in an interaction from Madrid.“Batra wants to be the start of everything. He always wants to be the prima donna.
“The first day you meet him, Batra can promise you the moon, he did that with me and my assistant and after that he interfered in every single point,” the 62-year-old said. During his tenure, Brasa had several run-ins with the Batra-led administration and most of them concerned team selection, camp venues, preparation series and the need to have a free hand to implement decisions.
“After the 2010 Delhi World Cup, we were called urgently for a meeting at Batra’s home to analyse the performance. It was not a discussion, it was simply an attack on us. He even fired physical trainer David Perez, saying, ‘I know more about physical fitness than any other person in the world’. Such arrogance is never good for a sport,” he said. If one is to assess the current scenario, it seems immiment that van Ass’ days as India coach are all but over.
Said Brasa, “The real problem is that coaches do not have freedom to work in India. Whenever I had an argument with Hockey India or SAI, they treated me like a worm. They believe that we coaches have no knowledge, and I also felt that they do not consider us as humans, this depsite that all of us have more experience in coaching than all of them combined.“In fact, HI and SAI were so useless that they could not get one single training match for the team at the National Stadium before the 2010 World Cup.”
Brasa recalled how he had a tough time dealing with the high-handed authorities here.“After the World Cup, SAI did not allow me to have a holiday, Mr Pravir Krisn abused me and threatened to send me to a SAI camp in the north of India to train schoolboys. I think they wanted me to resign. “In fact, SAI did not pay me my full salary. Even today, SAI owes me money. It was in my contract that the SAI has to pay for the tickets of my family visiting me, but after the visit they deducted that money from my salary.
Is this how you treat foreign coaches?” he asked. Brasa added that there was a definite need to “adapt a sporting culture” if India were serious about developing their hockey. “In any country, hockey board members are fully determined to help the coach. It’s the opposite in India, who are living in the stone age,” the Spaniard said.
Why is Oltmans silent?
High performance director Roelant Oltmans’ role assumes importance in the wake of the ongoing hockey controversy. According to Paul van Ass, it was Oltmans who had communicated to him about his “sacking” in an email, while HI president Narinder Batra has dismissed the claim saying the communication between the two coaches had nothing to do with the federation.
If HI has not sacked van Ass yet as Batra claims why is the federation not seeking answers from Oltmans on his email? Did Oltmans sent a mail on his own without consulting the federation, or was he asked by HI to do so? The 62-year-old, who has taken charge as India coach and is usually available for interaction, has been totally quiet following the controversy. All attempts to reach him through mail or phone have proved futile....