SAI hits back at Walsh over turf outburst

SAI hits back at Walsh over turf outburst

Sports Authority of India on Friday hit back at hockey chief coach Terry Walsh’s outburst against holding the camp for World Cup-bound side in sweltering heat here, saying that it was the national federation and team management which had decided it.

SAI Director General Jiji Thomson said it was not possible to hold the camp in Bangalore, which is the preferred venue for Walsh due to its cooler climes, because work on relaying of the turf there would take some time.

“It was they (federation and team management) who decided to hold the camp here in Delhi. We can’t force any federation to hold a camp here or there. We can’t make a decision alone,” Thomson said.

“When the nation camp was shifted to Delhi from Bangalore last August, everybody knew that the camp for the World Cup bound team will be held in Delhi. Now, why is this sudden outburst from Walsh, we are surprised. Moreover, why should Walsh speak out like this instead of Hockey India. They (Hockey India) could have taken up the matter with us but why Walsh?” he asked.

Thomson said that the work of relaying the astro-turf at Bangalore SAI Centre would take a few months more to complete as it needed to follow procedure. “We can’t do anything. We have to follow laid-down procedure. The tender will have to be floated to procure the turf which would cost Rs 2 crore. I think Bangalore pitch would be ready in two or three months.

“The Bhopal turf is also being relaid and so could not be used. The only other suitable place (considering cooler climatic conditions) for the players could be Shilaroo Centre in Himachal Pradesh but I don’t know why they did not go there,” he said.