The Indian hockey team skipper is enjoying home-cooked food and the familiar environs after an unexpectedly long time away from home.
After spending around three months at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru since March, the Indian hockey team players have finally returned home.
The joy can be heard in captain Manpreet Singh’s voice, who confessed to having been binging on his PlayStation just before his chat with the Olympic Channel.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally be back home and eat home-cooked food. It was a long stay with the team at the campus.
“As much as we enjoyed the time together, I could say that all of us had begun to feel homesick after a while,” he admitted.
The Indian hockey men and women’s hockey teams have had a promising run in the past two years with both teams securing their tickets to the Tokyo Olympics.
Both teams were put up at the SAI campus before the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown meant that they had to extend their stay.
It was the first time for Manpreet Singh to be away from his family for such a long time.
“The initial few weeks, we were motivating and lifting each other up by doing home workouts and playing indoor games,” the Indian hockey captain explained. “But after a while, the lockdown started to get to us.”
The Indian hockey captain had bunked with defender Varun Kumar during their stay at the SAI campus and the duo tried out new and creative ways to keep themselves occupied.
“In order to trick our minds into believing that there’s something new happening with us, Varun and me would often change our bed position or change the decor of our room to feel there’s some change at least,” Manpreet Singh chuckled.
“Also, once the courier services resumed, we ordered a couple of motivational posters to stick on our walls.
“Now that I think about it, I find those little things we did funny. But as silly as it sounds, it helped us stay calm in a difficult period.”
Manpreet Singh made his Olympics debut for the Indian hockey team as a 20-year-old at London 2012, and it was a collective dream that not only him but his whole family had achieved.
And though the campaign did not go too well, the Indian hockey team finished with the wooden spoon, but for Manpreet Singh, the experience was momentous.
“Since it was my first time, it will always be special for me,” the 27-year-old stated.
“I remember entering the Games village and being completely mesmerized by it. It gave me a chance to meet so many athletes and see legendary players up close. That was amazing.”
And as he enters his third Olympics in Tokyo next year, the young captain is hoping to lead the team to its first Olympic medal in four decades