Five months after he led the Indian junior men’s hockey team to a historic World Cup title on home soil, Harendra Singh is set to be replaced by former India assistant coach Jude Felix as in-charge of the junior men’s hockey team even as the entire matter is fast turning into a blame game.
Felix’s name was proposed during a recent meeting of the Hockey India (HI) Executive Board and has been forwarded to the Sports Authority of India for final approval. Sources in the federation confirmed the proposal but denied the charge that Harendra was ousted despite his achievements.
“We had put out open advertisement on our website inviting applications for appointment as junior men’s and women’s coach in April. It was also up on the SAI website. Everyone who applied was considered before shortlisting names. We had no problems with Harendra but got to know of his joining Oman Hockey as technical consultant. We wish him well but it’s already five months since the World Cup and we couldn’t let our junior squad remain without a coach,” Hockey India CEO Elena Norman confirmed to The Hindu. Sources also claimed Harendra had neither informed the federation about his decision nor discussed anything about wanting to continue with the Indian juniors.
Harendra, on the other hand, refuted the suggestion. “I was in Oman because the Asian Hockey Federation wanted to felicitate me. MG Poonacha is already there as coach and I am employed with Air India, how can I leave my job and go? I have been in Delhi all along and have no plans of going anywhere,” he claimed adding that there had been no discussions with Hockey India on any topic since December 2016. Harendra, though, admitted he had no idea about the advertisement for the post and added that even if he was considered, he would not have worked without remuneration. Indian coaches employed in government jobs are not eligible for payments for their services with national teams in any sport.
HI officials, meanwhile, claim that an official congratulatory note on his joining Oman Hockey was also sent by HI president Mariamma Koshy and acknowledged by Harendra. Amidst all this, the junior camps for both men and women are currently ongoing at the SAI Centre, Bengaluru under High Performance Director David John. Felix had earlier been assistant coach with the senior side before quitting for personal reasons two years back in controversial circumstances regarding midfielder Gurbaj Singh's suspension on the basis of his report.
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