Things never remain static in Indian hockey for long. While the players have been without competition for more than five months and are likely to remain so till the end of 2020, they will now also be without high performance director David John.
With less than a year to go for the re-scheduled Tokyo Olympics, John has cited health and personal reasons to resign. He has written to both Hockey India and Sports Authority of India. Hockey India has accepted his resignation and reiterated health as the official reason for John’s exit. However SAI, the official employer, is yet to decide on the matter.
John’s contract had been renewed recently following the Sports Ministry’s decision to extend all foreign coaches’ contracts till September 2021. He had joined in 2016 and this was his second stint, having been with the team as a physiologist in 2011-12.
Neither John nor SAI responded to repeated attempts for confirmation. Speculations abound on reasons for the resignation but insiders say his relations with the top management of HI had gradually deteriorated.
Interestingly, SAI and the Sports Ministry had refused to either accept Roelant Oltmans’ resignation or get a foreign replacement for him as men’s coach in 2017 despite Hockey India’s insistence. It had led to women’s coach Sjoerd Marijne being made men’s coach and Harendra Singh being given charge of the women.
Analytical coach Chris Ciriello and wife Heide had also left a month back citing visa issues and are currently not with the Indian team in Bengaluru. Ciriello, who also doubled as penalty corner coach, is expected to be back but there is no clarity on the issue.
Meanwhile, after Surender Kumar was re-hospitalised following Venous Thrombosis and swelling in his right arm on Thursday evening, goalkeeper Suraj Karkera was also admitted for malaria on Friday morning. Karkera was the lone male player who stayed back at the SAI Centre during the month-long break last month to avoid the COVID-19 situation back home in Mumbai.