On June 1, the core probables of the men's and women's national hockey teams were finally allowed to resume basic training activities post the first lockdown in the last week of March. On June 3, the body issued a press release noting this.
"Sport activities on the field of play for both Senior Men and Senior Women's Core Probables Group began in Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru Campus on Monday 1 June 2020 in a systematic and phased manner with all norms under the SOP being followed by both teams," the release said.
Yet, on Friday, most members from both teams were allowed to leave the SAI campus for the first time since February 16 (women) and March 14 (men). What changed during the last three weeks?
Nothing really changed, the top brass has finally come around to the conclusion to give the players what they had been wanting for the majority of the last two months — a chance to visit their loved ones amid the pandemic.
It has been known for more than two months that the players, most of whom had been 'homesick' for a while, wanted to leave. But the authorities, because of the path of the pandemic as well as travel restrictions and quarantine rules, did not sanction their departure.
The captains of both the teams even made a representation in May but the officials did not relent. They pointed out that if they go, they could lose close to a month because of the current quarantine rules in place.
However, on Friday, the management finally sanctioned the departure of most of the players — it's learned that more than 50 of the 59 senior players have since left for home. With no fixtures anytime soon, it's expected that they will assemble back in the campus in the third week of July.