Turmoil in hockey: HI head Tirkey, secretary Bhola Nath Singh deny rift

Former HI CEO Elena Norman had asserted there was a rift between them

(File) Dilip Tirkey (File) Dilip Tirkey

Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey and secretary general Bhola Nath Singh on Wednesday denied outgoing CEO Elena Norman's assertion of a rift between them, saying that they are "united" and working in the best interest of the sport.

Norman resigned on Tuesday and in an interview to PTI, she alleged that there was factionalism in the body. The 49-year-old Australian suggested that Tirkey and Singh were at loggerheads and also complained of a difficult work environment.

In a joint statement, Tirkey and Singh rejected Norman's claims.

"Recently there have been statements by outgoing officials published in the media, claiming that there are divisions within the organisation. This is not correct. We remain united in working together, and as always in the best interest of the sport," the two said.

"Hockey India is an autonomous and professional body dedicated to the development of Indian hockey. Our primary objective as an organisation has been and continues to remain the welfare and progress of the sport of hockey and our athletes."

Norman's resignation was the second blow to HI in the last few days after the Indian women's hockey team coach Janneke Schopman resigned, also complaining of a difficult work environment. Schopman had accused HI of giving step-motherly treatment to women's hockey.

Tirkey and Singh said HI has always treated all teams and players equally and also claimed to have built an environment of equality in the organisation.

"We have built our ethos around equity and equal opportunities right from the grassroots levels across states as well as on a national level," their statement read.

"In this spirit, our entire focus remains on growing our talent, ensuring all hosted events are conducted with utmost professionalism and our national teams are receiving the best support to support their performance at the global stage."

Norman began her tenure as the federation's first CEO back in 2011 with Narinder Batra as the head. After resigning, she stated that it was difficult for her to continue given the bickering inside HI.

"There are two factions in Hockey India. There is (President) Dilip Tirkey and I and there is (Secretary) Bholanath Singh, (Executive Director) Cdr. R K Srivastava and (Treasurer) Sekar J Manoharan," she said.

"There are guys who want power and then there is (HI President) Dilip (Tirkey) who is a nice guy, only after betterment of Indian hockey," she explained.

Tirkey and Singh said their focus is now on rebuilding the women's team, which failed to qualify for the Olympics, and helping the men's side that is due to compete in the quadrennial showpiece in Paris this year.

"We will continue in this pursuit of excellence and rebuild the women's team with a fresh approach to providing the right infrastructure and training to enhance their performance," they stated.

"In addition to this, we are cognisant of this being an Olympic year and are dedicated to aide the National Men's Team with the required support to stand on the podium yet again in the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris this year."

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