Bengaluru, Oct 5 (IANS) Post winning the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics and the lengthy break thereafter, the Indian men’s hockey team has resumed training at SAI Bangalore, preparing for the upcoming events including the 2022 FIH Pro League.
The 30 probables picked for the upcoming season started training in isolation on Monday as they are in soft quarantine for a week. The team hit the turf for the first time after their podium finish at the Tokyo and looked all charged and pepped for their upcoming international engagements.
All Covid-19 protocols and guidelines are strictly being adhered to in the camp. The players have gone through the Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and are staying in separate rooms as per the quarantine rule. They are undergoing outdoor training in different slots and are not mixing with other campers of SAI Bangalore, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) informed in a release on Tuesday.
The revised SOPs of the SAI allow for outdoor training.
The men’s hockey team is likely to participate in the Asian Champions Trophy scheduled to be held in Dhaka in December this year.
The team has a busy year ahead as it includes besides the FIH Pro League, the Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held at Birmingham in July 2022, Asian Games scheduled to be held in China in September 2022, and the World Cup, which India shall host in January 2023.
Manpreet Singh, captain of the team, thanked the administration and the Staff of SAI Bangalore for working overtime to provide all facilities to the team during the prolonged training camp before the Tokyo Olympics.
“I want to thank the entire staff of SAI Bangalore and the Regional Director on behalf of the entire team for the wholehearted support extended to the team even in difficult times,” Manpreet was quoted as saying in the SAI release.
Head Coach Graham Reid said that the team was returning to training after a well-deserved break and this initial camp shall help to reorient the players to their priorities in the coming months. He expressed his happiness on the support extended to the players by SAI Bangalore before the Tokyo Olympics despite the challenges of the Covid situation.
“The boys are all excited to resume the training and we are looking at our future engagements,” said the Head Coach.
Assistant Coach of the team, Piyush Dubey said that the boys are now refocusing on future engagements after the euphoria of winning the bronze medal for the nation after 41 years in the Olympic hockey event. “Our entire focus, for the time being, is on the Asian Champions Trophy in December this year and this month-long camp shall mainly target on improving the physical conditioning of the players,” he mentioned.
The Men’s team was felicitated on their return to the campus of SAI Bangalore on Monday.
It would be a challenging time for coach Reid and the support staff as besides getting the players into peak fitness, they will also have to work on finding replacements for some of the senior players who have announced their retirement from hockey after the Olympics.
Though in Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas India have penalty corner specialists ready to share more workload post Rupinderpal Singh’s retirement, it will also do the team a world of good if the team management checks out drag flickers from the junior team that has grown older for the Junior World Cup.
The team will also have to pick a replacement in defence for Birendra Lakra, who too has retired.