CHENNAI: “Eternal vigilance,” as the saying goes, “is the price of liberty”. Those are the exact words Graham Reid uses when a question about the risk involved in playing hockey without a vaccine is put to him. He reckons that there is a risk involved but the risk isn’t any higher than when a person goes out to buy milk in the morning. “To be honest we all are taking risks every day with this disease,” the men’s chief coach says.
It’s been around two weeks since both the senior national teams started training and the Australian says the next six months will be the most challenging in terms of dealing with the uncertainties with respect to the calendar and the evolution of the coronavirus. “’We do a lot of planning for ‘What If’ scenarios. What happens if this happens and this doesn’t’ for example. It certainly makes the process more time-consuming but there is a vigilance and thoroughness in it that you may not necessarily do in more certain times.
The further out the timeframe, the easier it is. The next 6 months are the toughest as these will vary a lot according to region/state/country. It is important though for the athletes to have something to aim at and that has been our major objective. Setting small milestones and giving them something to aim at in the short to medium term,” Reid says.
In the short term, the 56-year-old wants to ensure his wards maintain a certain level of fitness. “I had a meeting with the players this morning and I told them that I have been proud of the way they have stayed positive and maintained a good level of fitness and strength throughout this period. I also explained to them that we have been in a unique situation of going through something like this together and that will stand us in good stead for any pressure situations into the future.”
Women’s team’s coach, Sjoerd Marijne, also sings from the hymn sheet. “I am proud of the team and the players on staying strong through this period and we have been only looking at basic routines to maintain fitness levels and stay positive,” he says. He also bats for making plans on the go and making adjustments in the future, if necessary. “We have to plan and we can’t wait and see what’s happening,” the Dutchman says. “We make more plans and adjust if necessary.”
Marijne is also of the opinion that he doesn’t see any harm in restarting hockey without a vaccine in mass production. “There is more contact with soccer and they are already playing. So I don’t see any problem in that (restarting). It’s important to follow the guidelines and be aware and mindful of your surroundings.”