Indian men's hockey team chief coach Paul van Ass today claimed that he has been fired by Hockey India following his alleged public altercation with federation president Narinder Batra.
Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Paul van Ass today claimed that he has been fired by Hockey India following his alleged public altercation with federation president Narinder Batra.
“As far I know I was fired one week after the Hockey World League Semi-finals in Antwerp, Belgium. Roelant Oltmans (High Performance Director) was asked to replace me,” Van Ass told PTI from The Netherlands.
“I have been told on January 13 that Dr. Batra doesn’t want me to be the coach any more. Roelant called me and informed me about this,” he said.
“I am yet to get official confirmation but I expect it to get it by the end of this week. That is precisely the reason why I didn’t turn up for the camp,” the Dutchman said.
Van Ass’s future with the Indian team was in serious doubt after he failed to report on time for the national team’s camp that negan at the scenic Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh yesterday.
The theory that the Dutchman won’t be continuing as the coach gathered further steam when he failed to submit his report on India’s performance at the recently concluded World Hockey League semi-finals in Antwerp, Belgium.
According to media reports, Van Ass had a public spat with HI president Narinder Batra after the quarter-final match against Malaysia at the World League semifinals.
Asked Van Ass about the possible reason behind his unceremonious ouster, he said: “There is no reason, they will find a reason now.”
Van Ass confirmed that the public spat with Batra during the World League Semi-finals was the main reason for his ouster.
“After our win over Malaysia Dr. Batra came on the pitch and spoke to players in Hindi. I though he was commending the players but instead it turned out he was criticising the players,” he said.
“Then I jumped and because pitch is my area and I need to protect my players. Also I felt we played quite well in that match and won it.”
A hurt Van Ass, however, said if asked he is still willing to resume his duties and return back to India.
“Don’t ask me anything, ask Hockey India. I didn’t step aside… I was asked to go,” he said.
“I have no problem,” was his reaction when asked if he is eager to return to India.
“I have never stepped out.”
Incidentally, it is not the first time that a foreign coach of the Indian men’s hockey team will leave the country on a sour note.
Van Ass’s predecessors Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh — all of whom were hired by SAI on the recommendations of HI at hefty salaries — left the country on an unceremonious note.
Van Ass, who was appointed at the end of January this year, was awarded a three-year contract till 2018. India will host the 2018 men’s Hockey World Cup.
The World League semifinals in Antwerp, earlier this month, was Van Ass’s only second assignment with the Indian team.
As a player, Van Ass had limited international experience but as a coach he led the Netherlands to an Olympic silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics after being given the charge of the Dutch team in 2010.
Van Ass took over as coach of the Indian team after the post remained vacant for little over three months following Walsh’s sudden resignation just three weeks after guiding India to the Asian Games gold medal after a hiatus of 16 years.
Hockey India and his employer Sports Authority of India (SAI) didn’t confirm the development.