Hockey India chief Narinder Batra today conceded that the premature exit of Paul van Ass was a setback to the national team's preparations for the 2016 Olympics but made it clear that he had no regrets for letting go of "an incompetent coach".
Batra responded to criticism from van Ass, who had called the Hockey India boss as an "autocratic administrator".
"That is his opinion. To me, he was incompetent as a coach but was good as a motivator. I didn't know this when he came here first five months ago," Batra said after his meeting with Injeti Srinivas, Sports Authority of India (SAI) Director General, here.
The SAI chief, however, chose not to comment after his brief meeting with Batra. "SAI will make its recommendation to the Ministry on Monday. I don't wish to make any comments at this stage," Srinivas said.
Batra, who visited SAI headquarters after meeting Oltmans and HI CEO Elena Norman, did most of the talking.
"It is indeed a setback and I concede that. We have got behind in our Olympic preparation by a month. Now we should move on from all this and look to the future," he said referring to the latest controversy to have hit Indian hockey, triggered by an on field altercation between Batra and van Ass during the World League Semifinals in Belgium.
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"I don't want to say much about a person who says one lie after another. He says he doesn't have a ticket, when the ticket was there. He was so much demoralised before the quarterfinal against Malaysia. The players told me he was nervous before the game, how can he motivate the team in that case?"
Talking more about van Ass not being a good coach, Batra said he was only a good motivator.
"I started evaluating (after World League), when you are in Holland, you get a support staff of 10. Forward coach, midfield coach, goalkeeper coach and other strategists, it doesn't happen in India. He felt he was overworked. He was not able to deliver. He said to the players that Hockey India was putting pressure on him. Who has put pressure? I met him twice only in five months.
"As I said, he was a good motivator but not a good coach. Planning, strategy is also part of coaching," Batra explained.