Starved of matches, Indian men’s hockey begins Olympic year in Germany

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Graham Reid, the chief coach of India’s hockey staff, refers to a ‘wellness report’: a kind of health and happiness index that he and Robin Arkell, the energy and conditioning coach, have designed to understand how gamers are doing. “Both, the mental and physical side,” Reid says. “We ask them basic things like, ‘have you recovered?’, ‘how are you feeling?’…”

For a serious half of the final 12 months, none of them had been feeling good. “Not playing competitive matches in over a year has been very difficult, mostly mentally than physically,” goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was quoted as saying in a Hockey India media launch on Saturday.

In the previous couple of days, nonetheless, Reid seen a collective spike in the staff’s psyche. The motive for that’s the tour to Germany and Belgium for back-to-back take a look at sequence. “It is amazing how the physical surroundings impact the mental side of things positively,” Reid tells The Indian Express from Krefeld, the place they are going to tackle Rio Olympics bronze medalists Germany in the primary of the 2 matches on Sunday.

This can be India’s first sport after 370 days – their final match was in opposition to former world champions Australia in the FIH Pro League on February 22, 2020. For most of the time since then, the entire staff was cooped up contained in the coaching centre in Bengaluru, allowed out of their rooms just for meals and follow.

Of course, hockey wasn’t the one sport that suffered – it’s been the identical for all Indian athletes, regardless of the game and degree. But for Reid, the pandemic made issues somewhat extra complicated.

He took over because the chief coach in May 2019. But that was a uncommon year when India didn’t play even one top-10 ranked opponent in a aggressive match. Hockey India’s resolution to not play in the primary version of the Pro League, a event the place the world’s finest groups go head-to-head, robbed India of high quality match follow.

Then, after Pakistan withdrew from the occasion owing to monetary issues and a slot opened up, India snuck in. At the time, Reid was glad that the format of the Pro League would assist India’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. “It sorts out scheduling concerns for a coach. In an Olympic year, you are always thinking… ‘who do we play?…’ So in that sense, the Pro League is nice. We don’t have to worry about any of that,” Reid had mentioned.

But the pandemic disrupted all plans, and in the year of the postponed Olympics, India are staring on the very issues they believed had been taken care of final year. The tour to Germany was largely by likelihood.

“I had been contacting a lot of coaches in the last 3-4 months to get competition. I happened to talk to (Germany coach) Kais (al Saadi) and he was also looking for competition – everyone is around the world, everyone is starved,” Reid, the previous Australia chief coach and the Netherlands assistant coach, says. “So it was a matter of ‘can we make it work?’ And we were lucky and it’s good that SAI and Hockey India were able to make it happen.”

The two take a look at sequence – India play Britain in Belgium after the matches in Germany – will give the coaches and gamers lots of ‘feedback’ about all of the issues they’ve been engaged on, Reid says.

During the lockdown, when the coaching was restricted, the teaching employees’s focus was on enhancing the person abilities of the gamers. More just lately, the main target has shifted to tactical points; extra particularly, on transitions whereas attacking and defending.

Some of these items had been tried throughout the intra-squad matches that passed off each week. In December, simply earlier than the Christmas break, the staff performed a four-match sequence internally in an try and simulate event circumstances.

But Reid is aware of it’s virtually inconceivable to recreate the identical situations as a world match. So, the aim of the matches in opposition to Germany and Britain is to ‘get a lot of information’ about his gamers, the techniques and their abilities. “You get some feedback from the internal matches but when you are with the same group for a long time, you lose perspective and objectivity a bit. The objective of this tour is to get feedback of where we are at so we can plan what needs to be done between now and the Olympics,” Reid says.

India are with out their common captain Manpreet Singh and drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh for the tour, and Hockey India has not given any motive for his or her absence. Sreejesh will lead in Manpreet’s absence whereas the remaining of the squad is unchanged from final year.

Match schedule:
February 28 and March 2: vs Germany
March 6 and eight: vs Great Britain

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