Charlesworth slams ''inflexible'' SAI

New Delhi, Aug 4 (UNI) Lashing out at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), former technical advisor to Indian hockey, Ric Charlesworth today said the ''inflexibility'' of the governing body will always be an obstacle for any foreign coach to work in the country.

''Over the last few weeks, it has been clear that some (mostly unnamed) figures do not see a role for me and clearly as long as SAI controls the resources for the sport without any flexibility, it would be difficult for me or any international coach to operate.

Therefore, the outcome is not surprising and vindicates my resignation. As an advisor there was nothing more I could do,'' Chalesworth said in a statement.

Chalesworth, whose term with the Indian hockey ended rather abruptly a few weeks ago, is in the country to collect his personal belongings and settle his financial dues.

He also downplayed the SAI's claim that during his tenure, the Australian submitted only two reports on his observations and added that he will put forward all his reports once his financial dues are cleared.

''I have written more than 10 reports with many recommendations.

Not all of these have been passed on to SAI or the IHC yet as I will only do so when my salary arrears and invoices are paid.

''Had these matters been settled in a timely manner, then all reports would have been submitted at the time of completion (the first was written in February),'' he added.

With no official contract, Charlesworth began to work for Indian hockey from December 2007, but soon he decided to quit the job after India failed to qualify for Bejing Olympics during the Chile debacle.

But the debacle prompted the Australian to sign the contract with the SAI.

''Following my exclusion from a return to India for the women's camp in Lucknow and the Chile Olympic qualifier, I was ready to call it off, but was persuaded to continue. The turmoil after the defeat in Santiago witnessed by all in March led to a contract finally being put in front of me and with the IHF and IWHF agreeing to pay what SAI owed me I signed in the hope that things would improve,'' he stated.

However, Charlesworth added that the last few months in India after the IOA dissolved the KPS Gill-backed IHF in April, proved to be the most rewarding and enterprising of his assignment.

''When the IOA took up the challenge when the IHF fell was perhaps the most optimistic period with the team in Ipoh, Malaysia at the Azlan Shah tournament. In spite of the problems in Malaysia regarding support and organisation, the experience of having access to players was rewarding and not without result.

''At the beginning of May I met with the Sports Minister MS Gill with a view to outlining my vision for the elite programmes prior to going to Ipoh. I handed him a briefing paper to that effect. I believed at the end of May that I was in a position to report and recommend and that it was time to start building a programme and trying to advance the players and the game.

''I have never been one who wished to waste my time with fruitless enterprises and I hoped that perhaps by making it clear that the time for advising was over there may have been some enthusiasm for ensuring that I may have the opportunity to put in place my ideas practically by leading a renewed programme.

''It was the last chance to catalyse changes this year as most other international teams already have things in place for the rest of the year and most of 2009,'' he stated.

Although, the former Australian Olympian had to end his tenure on a sour note, he said he would be more keen to follow the progress of the Indian hockey and added if his suggestions are put to practise, the eight-time Olympic gold medalist, India has the potential to reach where it used to be years ago.

''I have always been a lover of the skills of the Indian players and owe a great deal to the players I played against and observed for what they have taught me. I will watch with interest to see if any of my recommendations are implemented for I firmly believe by doing so India can begin to climb the ladder to a top 6 place again one day,'' he said.


Story first published: Monday, August 4, 2008, 20:34 [IST]
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