CHENNAI: The revamped 2020-21 edition of the Pro League resumed in Dusseldorf on Tuesday, with Germany’s men’s and women’s teams playing their Belgian counterparts. Watching on from afar was India’s men’s chief coach Graham Reid.
Even if Belgium vs Germany kickstarted the return of elite international hockey, Reid knows they have next to no chance of playing international matches, including friendlies, possibly till the end of January.
Is that a disadvantage? In an interview to a national media, the Australian also elaborated on why it’s been good to have this time where they have returned to the basics with the squad, the plan for the six players who have recovered from COVID-19 and how he has informed his players of planning for the worst. Excerpts:
On resumption of sporting activities last month: Really good to get back to the basics, restarting from scratch. Not just from an aerobics point of view but with the skills and everything else as well. It’s nice to break down everyone’s game down to that. I’m a big believer in if you want to be the best team in the world, you have to have the world’s best basics. The basics needs to be reproduced under pressure. By having this time with the group, it enables us to do that.
On if it’s an advantage or disadvantage that India don’t play in the Pro League till April: I don’t like to put a label on things, I see it that’s what’s been dealt to us. Given Covid, it puts us at a risk if we have to travel. I don’t think it was ever going to be an option anyway. If anything it gives the surety and security that our next three months or so is going to be here, we can move forward with that.
On the chances of going abroad for a trip in January: We remain positive, working on the assumption that it could happen in the end of January. Let’s see what happens, it’s a moving piece at the moment. We don’t know one day from the next. Looking at the Indian (Covid) numbers over the last couple of days, it’s encouraging. Let’s all hope and pray that things will get better and the second wave of Europe doesn’t eventuate. We are also preparing for the worst just in case. As a coach, you have to plan keeping in mind different scenarios and let the players be aware of it.
On whether landing up in Tokyo without a single match represents the worst case: Yeah, probably. It’s something that I announced to the players the other day. We have to be prepared that might be the case. But I’m hoping that won’t be. We have a full tour planned and pro league and all that (next year). What’s great about the world at the moment is that there all these different sporting events going on. Lots of things will be learned, best practices will be worked out and things like that. There will be data, therefore I remain positive.
On the plan for the six men’s players: Actually not to dissimilar with people who miss out after suffering from injury. We call it return to play, they are now almost fully integrated with the group to be honest.
On what happens next: That really depends on what’s the next phase with respect to opening up around the place. Maybe in the next camp (the teams will break soon for a short break but the players will remain at the SAI premises because of the virus situation) we could have tactics and all that and that could hopefully include intra-squad games.
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