CHENNAI: With everything coming to standstill due to the COVID-19 outbreak, sports federations and associations across the country have come up with plans to keep athletes in shape during this phase of lull. The Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) is no different, although it has had to modify plans somewhat due to the situation.
Initially, the focus of HUTN’s online training was on fitness. But with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down officials felt the need to conduct lectures to keep the athletes motivated. So from fitness, the subject shifted to how to stay charged up.
Every day, around 170 men’s players — junior and senior — and nearly 100 women from various parts of the state undergo online fitness training conducted by Pravin, Tamil Nadu junior men’s team trainer, through the Zoom app. Former state men’s coach Charles Dixon and Clement, HUTN joint-secretary and former state men’s team manager, handle the motivational part.
“We started with fitness drills. The athletes work out for close to an hour daily. The trainer also sends WhatsApp videos on how to do workouts. It covers all three aspects — cardio, strength, and endurance,” said Sekhar J Manoharan, the HUTN president.
“But we realised that it’s also tough to keep spirits up during these times. So we held motivational speeches. In the coming days, we will conduct lectures on the importance of nutrition as well,” added Sekhar.
It is not limited to players alone. The HUTN holds interactive sessions for officials too. Depending on their level of qualification, they have been classified into six groups. Each group comprises 30-40 officials. Senthil Rajkumar, HUTN’s technical committee chairman, and international umpire Moghul Mohammed Muneer conduct these sessions.
“This is to impart knowledge to them. I get 150-200 messages daily. The group is very active. This is more like a question-answer session. For instance, Senthil and Muneer come up with hypothetical situations and ask the officials what their decision would be during those situations,” elaborated Sekhar.
Under normal circumstances, the association would have gone ahead with plans of having a coaching clinic after conducting one last November. Due to the situation, HUTN is contemplating having an online coaching programme. The idea is to connect with nearly 200 coaches in the state, including physical training instructors.
“We started this discussion recently. We are yet to shortlist coaches to conduct these sessions. The programme will focus on how coaches can help players remain fit, maintain their diet among many other things. We are planning to call four coaches to talk about this. If the lockdown is extended, then definitely we will go ahead with this plan. As of now, we are looking at a three-day programme.”
As of now, the 10th Junior Men National Championships (A & B Division) which was originally slated in Chennai in May, has been deferred to next year. Though there is no update on the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup that usually takes place between July and August, Sekhar doesn’t see any tournament happening in the immediate future, given Chennai remains one of the worst-affected cities.