The Indian men’s hockey team’s coach Graham Reid on Thursday said he was privileged to be a part of the game’s revival in India after the side clinched its first Olympic medal in 41 years by beating Germany in the bronze play-off.
The 57-year-old, who was a part of Australia’s silver-winning team in the 1992 Barcelona Games, took over as India coach in 2019 and has obsessively talked about pursuing a process and investing in youth to get the results at a big stage like the Olympics.
“It is a fantastic feeling, it has come after a lot of sacrifices that the whole group has made,” Reid said referring to the time the players spent away from their families and in some cases, battling Covid-19 as well.
“It takes a long time to get where these athletes have gotten. All the sacrifices that go unseen,” he added with skipper Manpreet Singh sitting by his side after the 5-4 triumph over Germany.
“...I know that apart from the country, this group has been waiting for a medal for a fairly long time and I know how much hockey means to India and I am privileged to help play a part in that.”
India were 1-3 down in the match and Reid said one of the things that has been worked on during his stint was to never lose hope of a comeback.
“Before the game I asked the guys to make sure they bring the next level if something happens, for example, if you are down, you need to bring the next level of play and they did that very well,” Reid explained.
“(It is) never over until it is over. It’s always easy to say you should be doing this or that but there are lots of things that go on,” he added when asked about the penalty corner that India conceded just six seconds from the final hooter.
“It has been one of the signatures of this team, which we have tried to develop and make sure that we can always come back and I think we did that.”
Reid was effusive in his praise for veteran custodian PR Sreejesh, who stood like a wall in the face of unrelenting German attacks.
“Having someone like Sreejesh in the goal is nice, glad that we didn’t have to go into a shootout. He is a stalwart of Indian hockey. He has done a lot of work in the background to get to where he is,” he said.
The seasoned coach also lauded the efforts made by the sports ministry and the Sports of Authority of India.
“The funding is there, it is just a matter of keeping these things going. It used to be the national game. All involved with hockey want to see it back,” he said.
“We worked on our mentality, I told them we can change the future and we did that today,” he added.
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