Indian women’s hockey head coach Sjoerd Marijne on Saturday said that the team has achieved its primary target of improving fitness level of the players as they were left with practically no competition this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The team did not play any competition since February, when it had travelled to New Zealand. Since then, they have been training at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Bengaluru. The camp ended on Saturday.

“One of our goals was improving fitness and that worked out very well. In the past few weeks, we also worked with the junior men’s team in a few sessions to test our speed and handling skills and I am happy with the progress we have made as a group,” Marijne said.

He believes the core group had worked hard towards a good build-up to the Tokyo Olympics next year.

“We have done well so far in utilising this time and our primary focus is the Olympics. We are hopeful of playing good matches early next year that will show where we stand and we can plan the months leading up to the Games keeping in mind the areas that require improvement basis our performance in these tours,” the head coach explained.

Marijne said the break the players are getting will help them recover from the mental fatigue.

“The players have worked hard these past four and half months and they have done it without complaining about anything – be it living in a bio bubble with zero outside interaction or living away from their families for so long.

“I am extremely happy with the attitude they have showed these past four months and I understand that the training camp was physically and mentally quite challenging. This break will be especially good to recover from the mental fatigue.”

The players are given certain team-related assignments when they are on a break.

“I would want the players to enjoy time with their family and follow the Hockey India SOP when they meet people and socialise because the pandemic is still not over,” the coach said.

“They have all been given some homework to do as well because this break is part of our training schedule except, they won’t be using the stick and the ball.”

With PTI Inputs