Bengaluru: It has been ten days since the Indian men and women teams resumed basic sporting activities on the hockey pitch at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre.
After over two months of staying indoors during the nationwide lockdown, the captains stated that the team’s approach right now is “resume cautiously and slowly”.
“Since all of us had been doing some basic fitness exercises in our hostel rooms in these two months, we were not stiff when we returned to the pitch but we are taking it slow and steady. We are going about a very simple routine without putting too much pressure on our bodies,” stated Manpreet Singh, captain of the men’s team.
While the teams follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and guidelines specified by SAI and Hockey India, Manpreet feels the players too have become very conscious of following social distancing and keeping up with hygiene practices.
“Our sessions are conducted in small groups to ensure social distancing. Earlier, we never used hand sanitisers in between sessions and we would use the same tumbler to drink water.
“But all that has changed now with players consciously rubbing their hands with sanitisers, not just before entering the ground, but also every-time there is a break and each one of us carry our own bottles and ensure we don’t share.
“We also change the grip on our stick regularly and our temperature is recorded after the session as well and it is monitored closely everyday to check for any irregularities. This is the ‘new normal’ for us and we need to follow it to the T,” he added.
Rani, meanwhile, expressed that the coaching staff discussed with each player individually once they resumed on-field activities.
“After we began basic activities on the pitch last week, the coaches discussed with us individually how we are feeling both mentally and physically. All players are urged to express any issues they are facing and coaching staff check with us about the well-being of our families.
“We are back to basics right now with simple activities such as passing, trapping and goal-shooting. Personally, I am taking it slow too and not stressing my back or shoulder too much. All of us realise it is important to start slow in order to avoid any kind of injury and we just want to enjoy being back on the field again,” stated the captain who has been nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Although the teams’ mantra has been to re-start slow and steady, they remain focused on their goal of performing well at the Olympic Games next year. “Over the next few months, each of us have a plan and a target to improve on our individual game. Internally, we are focusing on little things that we need to do to be as good as possible for the Olympics next year,” Manpreet added.