Indian hockey men’s team head coach Graham Reid feels the side will be adequately equipped to deal with the physical demands of competitive hockey after a long time out of the game.
The Indian hockey team last played a competitive match in February, against Australia in the FIH Pro League, which they won in a penalty shootout.
The season came to a halt after that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Indian hockey men’s team only began proper training again during the national camp, which began in late August.
After a gruelling four-month stint in a bio-bubble at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru, the players left for their homes last weekend for a break and Graham Reid was satisfied with their progress.
“We have done everything possible to maintain and more recently get the players back to the level they will need to be to compete on the world stage,” said Graham Reid.
“Our fitness tests in the strength, weight, speed and muscle components show that we are on target. Our training sessions output data are approaching our February figures. I believe we are close to the level we showcase in our international matches.”
The Indian hockey men’s team had to abandon plans of a practice tour to the Netherlands a few months back due to fears over COVID after six players, including captain Manpreet Singh, had tested positive. They have since recovered.
The team will also not resume its FIH Pro League until April 2021, when India travel to Argentina if all goes according to plan, but head coach Reid was hopeful of arranging a tour prior to that.
“We have planned for matches from early in the next year. These matches will ideally show us the level we are truly at and the areas that will require work on leading into the Olympic Games,” he said.
While Reid was pleased with the team for handling the unique situation of training in a bio-bubble, he also emphasised the importance of taking a break and regroup after a tough training period.
“It is extremely important for them to relax mentally and physically after a very hectic four months. This break will help not just the players but also the coaching staff the opportunity to hit the refresh button and be ready for next year,” concluded Reid.