This piece was published in Sportskeeda
The Indian senior men’s hockey team may have launched their 2014 Incheon Asian Games campaign on a winning note, but the team’s head coach Terry Walsh and Hockey India’s High Performance Manager Roelant Oltmans would be under the scanner after the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has recently gone on record stating that their fate will be decided after the conclusion of Asia’s showpiece event.
Of course, there is no harm is carrying out a ‘performance review’ of the foreign coaches, but its the ‘timing’ that needs to be questioned. Where was the need to go public and state that nothing but a gold medal by the men’s team at the Asiad would convince the SAI top-brass that the foreign coaches are indeed delivering?
History will vindicate that the timing of statements from top sports officials has not only courted controversies from time to time, but also created needless pressure on athletes/coaches. A recent media report stating foreign coaches associated with Indian hockey will come up for a ‘performance review’, is certainly not in good taste given the team was about to embark for the Incheon Asian Games.
At least, the announcement by SAI about putting foreign coaches on notice could have been avoided and could have been done after the Games were over. One is not sure whether SAI’s frosty relations with Hockey India has anything to do with it. We all remember how Hockey India came down heavily on SAI after the women’s team preparing for the Asian Games found their Patiala turf ‘dangerous’ with Roelant Oltmans even writing to the Sports Ministry in this regard.
The SAI did not hold back punches then with its Director General Jiji Thomson stating that Hockey India can use any other available turfs as the former was not insisting them to use only the Patiala turf. Whatever may be the relations between Hockey India and SAI, one must ay that SAI got it wrong by stating that the performances of the hockey foreign coaches would come up for review just on the eve on the Asian Games. It creates unwanted pressure on somebody like Terry Walsh to deliver. Knowing the thorough professional Walsh is, he is unlikely to get affected. But clearly, pressure or no pressure, the SAI could have been better off with the timing of their ‘performance review’ statements.
Ideally, such talk would have been seen in good light after the end of the Asian Games and not on the eve of it! We all want our hockey team to fare well and don’t want needless distractions.