Indian men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid and his women’s team counterpart Sjoerd Marijne say the COVID-19 pandemic forced-delay gives them one more year to prepare even better although they were disappointed that Tokyo Olympic Games have been pushed back by a year.
Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams are preparing at the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru, and Hockey India will hold a meeting with the chief coaches of both teams, in order to map out a training and fixture schedule for the teams.
“It is very disappointing that the Olympics will not go ahead in 2020, but given the unprecedented circumstances facing the world at present, it is totally understandable and expected,” Reid said.
“I feel sorry for all the athletes who have dedicated the last four years of their life for this, however postponement rather than cancellation will give most of them enough motivation to continue to push through this tough period,” he said.
He further added, “The positive in this situation for us is that we have another year to work with this young squad. We are lucky that SAI has provided us with a safe environment and that we can continue to train. Unlike many other countries, there is no time lost for us.
“We will now rework our programme and be ready for International competition as soon as restrictions are lifted. I think the recent FIH Hockey Pro League games against the top three teams in the world showed that we are competitive. I’m excited to think about what this team can do with another year under its belt.”
Meanwhile, Marijne said, “I just had a meeting with the team and broke this news to the group. Though it is disappointing, the girls told me, ‘It’s ok, coach. We will continue to work the way we are and this probably gives us more time to prepare for the Olympic Games and be our best.’
He added: “Clearly, the girls’ motivation is undeterred by this announcement and we will continue to look at the positives and work hard to be our best. I am sure once the situation around Covid-19 improves, we will sit down with Hockey India management to plan out a fresh calendar for the preparations leading up to the Olympics next year.”