Former hockey coach Harendra Singh dons new role amid COVID-19 outbreak

The former hockey player and coach is in charge of making arrangements for Indian evacuees in coronavirus-struck nations.

By Olympic Channel Writer ·

Former Indian hockey player and coach Harendra Singh is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic head-on in his new avatar of Air India's General Manager.

Tasked with supervising arrangements for Indian evacuees from coronavirus-struck nations, Harendra Singh is drawing from his coaching experience to help the smooth transit of citizens rescued by the government.

"I am stationed here from the first flight that evacuated Indians from Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus,” Harendra Singh told the Press Trust of India.

"It is a very big challenge for me and being the leader, I had to set an example for the team, groom and motivate them," he added.

Then Indian coach Harendra Singh during the Champions Trophy match between India and Pakistan in 2018

Coaching experience gives Harendra Singh an edge

The former Indian coach believes if anything, his coaching experience gives him a slight edge in such a situation.

"Both experiences are challenging but are completely different. But I must admit my experience as a hockey coach is definitely giving me an edge," he said.

Harender Singh, who guided India to the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup title in Lucknow and was senior team coach during the 2018 men's Hockey World Cup, went on to explain how his '3C principles' that he cultivated as a coach is helping him in his new role.

"In this mission too, I just followed my 3C formula (communication, commitment and coordination). It is the same formula which I employed during the Junior World Cup," Harender Singh said.

Even though his new role has him standing on the frontline in India’s battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, the 1990 Asian Games silver medallist insisted that he’s no exception.

"Thousands of doctors, policemen, emergency service workers are working round the clock putting their life at risk, so I can't be an exception. It's a big opportunity for me to serve the nation on a different platform,” he admitted.

The former hockey player and his team have been working tirelessly, sometimes 72 hours at a stretch. 

Often seen on the tarmac, wearing a decontamination suit, Harendra Singh also thanked his family – who are proud of his endeavours – for their support.

More than 300 cases of the COVID-19 virus have been reported so far in India with the numbers expected to increase over the coming weeks.