Hockey coach Michael Nobbs 'sacked', he says resigned on his own

Michael NobbsMichael Nobbs (File Pic/PTI)

Indian hockey was hit by a fresh controversy Tuesday with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Hockey India saying Michael Nobbs had been "sacked" as the chief coach of the Indian team on grounds of poor performance. But Nobbs said he had "resigned" because of illness, homesickness and bouts of depression.

Nobbs, it is learnt, told Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra that he was "fed up of the game" when they met last week in New Delhi. He even offered to quit immediately during the meeting but Batra insisted that Nobbs should continue until the Asia Cup, hoping that a good performance by the team there would lift his spirits.

However, the 58-year-old Australian, who was appointed as the chief coach of the national team in June 2011, was eventually shown the door by SAI after his contract, which ran up to the 2016 Olympics, was terminated Monday. Batra said the decision to part ways was taken in consultation with High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans, after it was concluded that there were some issues with his coaching style. "Oltmans felt there were some areas in which we were lacking and Nobbs was not able to rectify them and produce the desired results. Hence, we informed SAI that we do not want his services any more," Batra said.

Nobbs' position was under immense scrutiny after India failed to qualify for the World Cup during the recently-concluded World League semifinals. Hockey India had earlier this month hired former national coach M K Kaushik to assist the Australian during the Asia Cup, which India needs to win to qualify for the World Cup.

Nobbs, however, insisted he wasn't sacked. He said his deteriorating health was the prime reason for him not to return to India. "I have had some problems for a while. When I went on the previous trip to Holland (for an exposure tour) I passed out a couple of times and had trouble walking. It was getting really bad. I had a test after returning to India and had extremely high blood pressure of 180/120. Depression hit hard on top of this. It was a struggle," Nobbs told The Indian Express. "I was struggling to focus on coaching and it was worrying me. I was extremely homesick for my kids."

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