Their recent string of impressive wins notwithstanding, the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams are seeking improvements in certain areas before their embark on their Tokyo Olympics 2020 campaigns. The men’s team in particular, is coming off some wonderful victories in the recently-concluded FIH Hockey Pro league with wins over Netherlands, Belgium and Australia. Also Read - Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty Pair Hopes to Get a New Foreign Coach After Tokyo Olympic Postponement
However, the team did endure a defeat each to Belgium and defending champions Australia, and skipper Harmanpreet Singh wants his players to keep making big strides in the build up to the Tokyo games. Also Read - I See Myself Running at Tokyo Olympics: Record-Holding Marathon Runner Eliud Kipchoge
“Good results against the world’s top 3 teams is no doubt a big morale boost for the entire team but there are a lot of areas that still concern us and when the team met after the double-header against Australia, it was decided that we will go back to basics when we meet for a four-week long National Camp in SAI Bengaluru,” stated Harmanpreet, who was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’ against Australia. Also Read - Hima Das Writes to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju For Access to Outdoor training at NIS Patiala
“We have paid a price in these matches for slowing down or dropping the tempo in between quarters. This is an area of concern in the lead up to the Olympic Games. Also Coach believes we can do better in terms of circle penetration, tackling outside the circle and not conceding too many PCs. A long camp will definitely help focus on these critical points.”
As for the women team, they are coming off a recent tour of New Zealand which saw them register a 4-0, 3-0 win against the hosts, while facing 1-2 and 0-1 defeats, to go with a 1-0 win over Great Britain as well. The tour was a big learning curve as vice-captain Savita Punia puts it.
“We all have reminders set on our phones that show the countdown to our first match in Tokyo. As we are getting closer, there is a lot of excitement as well as anxiousness to tick off all the boxes to ensure we are best prepared and our recent tour of New Zealand was quite a learning experience,” she said.
While their on-going camp has been about improving our fitness, speed, goal-shooting, tapping the ball and tackling, the players have also tried to play with different combinations that are effective in the attacking midfield and forward-line.
“There is a great sense of competition within the team to prove ourselves and this is helping in building competitiveness and improving as a unit,” she Savita explained. “Having Janneke Schopman (Analytical Coach) as part of the support staff is also helping a lot because she brings different insights into our game and how we need to cope during tense matches. We feel the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good yardstick to measure where we stand ahead of the Olympic Games.”