India is slowly recovering as a nation after being rocked by the coronavirus COVID-19. Indian hockey like all sports in India came to a complete standstill as both men and women’s teams were unable to train and practice for months.
The biggest challenge for Indian hockey at the start of 2020 was to see if they would be able to have a successful run at the Tokyo Olympics and win gold. With the Tokyo Olympics being postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, the Indian men and women’s hockey team have had to reset their goals and work out a new plan of action.
Training Camp Going On At SAI Bangalore
The men’s hockey team initially pushed forward with a training camp at Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru but their training camp was immediately met with setbacks as quite a few players tested positive. SAI put in place rigorous protocols and create a bio-bubble that has allowed both the men and women’s hockey team to resume training and prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The National Hockey training camp has gone on well so far and there have been no other reports of players testing positive. SAI plans to keep the bio-bubble going and have the players follow strict protocols till India lifts all of its travel restrictions and allows players to travel overseas to take part in different competitions.
Hockey India Worked Hard Through Pandemic
While hockey was suspended throughout India during the height of the pandemic, Hockey India kept itself busy by taking the virtual route and engaging multiple stakeholders. Hockey India rolled out a number of Coaches Education Pathway courses, ran multiple online courses for officials and umpires and collaborated with state member units to keep them abreast of what they were doing.
Hockey India also crafted standard operating procedures (SOPs) that players are now following at SAI Bangalore. They also worked on diet charts to keep players fit while being in training camp lockdown. Hockey India has also sent out an Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) to SAI India outlining a detailed national camp and tour schedule till Sep 2021.
State member associations have also been advised by Hockey India to resume training. The management at Hockey India say that their collaboration so far from all stakeholders during the pandemic has been great which has enabled the Indian men and women’s hockey team to quickly resume training and be focused on the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Hockey India Focusing On NE Talent
Hockey India current President Gyanendro Ningombam has said that one of the goals in the next few year is to focus on the North East part of India and promote the game of hockey. The North East has produced a number of top hockey players in the past but interest in the game has waned in this region.
Ningombam who is from Manipur knows that there is a lot of talent in this region and wants to do more to find and encourage talented hockey players to shine for India. One of the ways Hockey India is doing this is by providing the necessary equipment to state units in the North East part of India and asking them to collaborate with their state governments to get proper infrastructure in place to promote the game of hockey.
Hockey India is also looking to train and send quality hockey coaches to the North East. The focus right now is on Manipur, Mizoram and Assam where there are already two synthetic pitches. These states could get more pitches in the near future as Hockey India is currently holding talks to develop more full sized synthetic pitches in the North East.