CHENNAI: The men’s hockey team’s last match? February 22, 2020 against Australia. Their next scheduled official match? As things stand, against Argentina on April 10, 2021 (the postponed men’s Asian Champions Trophy is in March but the fixtures aren’t yet out).
This represents a big problem for a team seeking to occupy the podium places at next year’s Olympics. To go a couple of months without any competitive game during the season is problematic. To go a year and two months without a game, for a professional sports team, is extremely problematic.
Coach Graham Reid is hoping to rectify it by taking the team to Malaysia as well as New Zealand in January 2021. “We are hoping to have a training camp with Holland in Malaysia, maybe play a game or two before going to New Zealand for the four nations tournament in January,” he said. He had originally envisioned taking the team to Europe this winter but says ‘that’s realistically not possible the way things are panning’.
The Australian, though, isn’t thinking about 2021 for now. Having just got back to coaching the team after a six-week break, the onus is on getting the basics back. Why? It’s fair to say that the World No 3 haven’t had a single intense session since the camp was discontinued in March.
“This first camp is to get their basics back to a reasonable level. Training in small groups blend perfectly into low intensity individual sessions. As we move forward, we hope to move into competitive training gradually.” The second part will focus on regaining strength.
That, Reid hopes, will see the players back to where they were at the end of last year. “We are working on ways to get strong again, get the basics back to where we want them to be. (...) we are trying to get back to the levels we were before we stated playing the Pro League. How we do that will be similar to procedure we followed to this time last year.”