By Rohit Mundayur
New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Indian men’s hockey coach Graham Reid said that there have been conversations with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to gain access to sports psychologists as the team starts its build-up towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Earlier in November, India had confirmed qualification for Tokyo 2020 by beating Russia 11-3 in a two-legged qualifier that was held in Bhubaneswar.
“We have been speaking to Sports Authority of India about access to sports psychologists,” Reid told IANS. “We haven’t had any more discussions since we first brought it up but they will be coming in the next months or so.”
“Winning the Olympic games is a really hard thing, you know. Everyone wants to do it. I think part of the problem with India is that because they have won so many of them, it looks like it should be easy but the reality is that it is not,” he said.
Reid added that he is happy with the options he has got with the Indian team at the moment. “I am very happy with the group that we have and also with the junior team. I think there is a good eclectic mix of players. There are a lot of experienced players but also we have some really good younger players,” he said.
India faced Russia in a two-legged Olympic qualifier at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar on November 1 and 2. Placed 22nd in the world standings, Russia were the rank underdogs coming into the tie and had previously lost 10-0 to India at the same stadium during the FIH Series Finals in June.
However, they were a different side during the qualifiers and made India work for their victory. It was only in the last quarter of the second leg that they buckled and conceded four goals, thus losing the tie 11-3. Now that the dust has settled on that tie, Reid’s next big assignment is managing the team at the Pro League which will start from January 18 and go all the way to June.
Reid however said that the first step before the Pro League in the run up to the Olympics is the national camp that starts next week in Bhubaneswar. “The focus is improvement in individual skills across the board. Whether it be in passing, finishing, tackling — all the basics and also regarding penalty corners and (tactics in) attack and defence,” he said.
“When I applied for the job I was trying to put across that I want to be in a long term situation. I feel one of the things that this team needs is some consistency and time. Certainly, I would love to stay on. But that’s in the future, my next eight or nine months are pretty clear now and that’s what I will be focussing on,” he said.