Graham Reid and Sjoerd Marijne, coaches of the India men’s and women’s hockey teams respectively are focussing more on the positives during this nation-wide lockdown. The teams are in a way locked down in Bengaluru’s SAI centre and ever since the news of Tokyo Olympics postponed to July 21 broke, teams have been a bit rattled. But that is where Reid and Marijne’s roles have helped calm the team down. Also Read - Hockey: India Men's Team Captain Manpreet Singh Five Other Players Recover From COVID-19, Discharged From Hospital
The women’s team has been at the SAI centre for approximately nine months and Marijne reveals that although Rani Rampal and Co. were a bit taken aback with the news of postponement of the Summer Games, the girls understood that the buffering zone of another year is only a chance at getting better. Also Read - Hockey: National Camps to Resume on August 19 Despite 6 COVID-19 Cases
“The girls told me this gives them another year to prepare well because over the last two years, our performance graph is upwards. For the girls to have a positive outlook was reassuring,” Marijne told ESPN. “As a group, we created activities which are allowed – individual video meetings, training mindfulness, strength and conditioning, watching sport documentaries. We challenge the girls to create a kind of competition.” Also Read - India Defender Gurinder Singh Working Hard to Achieve Olympic Dream
As far as the men’s team is concerned, Reid pointed out the boys were quick to see the positive side of the decision to delay the Olympics. “This allows us extra time to get used to our way of play and opportunities for each of us to get much better,” said Reid. “It helped put things in perspective for everyone –what’s important in life is maintaining the health and safety of each of us and our families.”
Thankfully, the lockdown for the men’s team isn’t as hard due to the fact that the players had already taken to self-isolation even before the initial 21-day lockdown was imposed on the nation.
“We had already started to test the online software we were using and held some online internal meetings to get everyone accustomed to the technology,” Reid told ESPN. “But the athletes are now used to staggered dining room times, two-metre distances while eating food and exercising in our rooms.”
With no tentative timeline yet, Reid and Marijne have ensured that they remain in contact with each other and assure the players of confidence, self-belief, which in itself remains a challenging task considering the chances of any form of competitive hockey taking place anytime soon are pretty slim.
“I think we have all been asked to hold online coaching courses and Q&A sessions which keep you relatively switched on with how things are going in different countries,” said Reid.
“From a coaching perspective, the positive and unprecedented part of this situation is that every team around the world is going through it at the same time. It certainly makes it easier to know if we de-load the players a little now, we can be confident that we will have time to ramp up in time for when it is required next year, minimising the risk of overtraining them.”