BENGALURU: His side's Olympic preparation hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian men's hockey team chief coach Graham Reid is hoping to resume international action from early next year.
The Australian said the sooner India gets to play international matches, the better willbe their preparations for the Tokyo Games, which has been shifted to next year due to the global pandemic.
"With the support of Hockey India, we have planned for matches from early 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," Reid said in a statement issued by Hockey India.
After spending nearly 20 weeks at the national camp in SAI South Centre here, the core probables of the Indian men's team left for their respective homes over the weekend.
Reid is satisfied with the progress the Indian players have made over the last four months and said they are close to achieving the pre-COVID levels, in terms of fitness and skill needed to compete at the world stage.
"We have done everything possible to maintain and more recently get the players back to the level they will need to compete at the world stage. 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 (when the team played FIH Hockey Pro League in Bhubaneswar). I believe, we are close to the level we showcase in our international matches," he said.
The coach was pleased with the level of commitment and determination shown by his players inside the bio-secure environment of thee SAI campus here.
"Given the extremely difficult circumstances for the last 4 months, I am pleased with where we are and how the players have conducted themselves in the bio-secure bubble in SAI," said Reid.
"In a normal year, you have 4-6 weeks in camp and the players get 1 week off to spend with their friends and family. On the weekends they normally leave the campus and visit the mall or cinema etc.
However, this year there has been none of that and has been a very tough mental test for all of us. But I am happy with the way players have handled this situation."
Reid said the much-needed three-week break will help in rejuvenating the players and the entire support staff.
"It is extremely important for them to relax mentally and physically after a very hectic past four months. This break will help not just the players but also the coaching staff. It will provide us the opportunity to hit the refresh button and be ready for next year."