Coach Reid, captain Manpreet hail  hockey team's mental toughness in tumultuous 2020
Graham Reid

Coach Reid, captain Manpreet hail hockey team's mental toughness in tumultuous 2020

New Delhi, January 1, 2020

Chief coach Graham Reid and captain Manpreet Singh have hailed the Indian men's hockey team's mental toughness in the tumultuous year gone by, asserting that the players are close to the fitness levels that they showcased in international matches in February 2020.

"It's been very heartening to see the way the players have put in the hard yards in the last four months and reach a level close to which the team showcased in international matches early on in 2020," Reid told Hockey India in Bengaluru.

"It was brilliant to see our training sessions output data approach our February figures (when the team played FIH Hockey Pro League in Bhubaneswar) before the team left for a break in December," he said.

The team opened 2020 on a great note by registering victories over each of the top three international teams – Belgium, Australia and Netherlands in the FIH Hockey Pro League.

The side's stupendous performances in their debut FIH Hockey Pro League campaign helped them achieve their best-ever ranking of fourth in the FIH World Rankings as well.

However, the Indian team had to reboot its plans and preparations for the Olympics, once the quadrennial event was postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was a test of mental toughness for the players as the national side was away from the pitch from March to August. The players put their complete focus on maintaining their fitness, while they stayed at the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru.

Captain Manpreet was very happy at the way his teammates stayed positive during this tiring period.

"It's been amazing to see the resolve shown by each and every member of the Indian team. All the senior players took the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment throughout the year, especially during the time we were away from the pitch," he told Hockey India.

"Our Scientific Advisor Robin Arkell kept giving us fitness schedules regularly and we kept carrying them out in our rooms from March to August," he said.

The captain also praised Hockey India, saying "It had ensured that we were kept busy with many activities when we were away from the pitch. They have been a huge support this year. They ensured that we could safely stay at the SAI campus during most part of this year and also organized a break for us in June.

"The players returned to the pitch for sports activities on 19 August. They started building their game from scratch slowly and steadily.

"By increasing intensity with each sports activities session, the players kept getting better and after four months of following all practice regimes devised by the coaching staff, the team had reached close to the fitness levels that they showcased in international matches in February this year, before leaving for a break in December," he said.

Defender Surender Kumar said, "We have worked really hard in the last few months and it has shown in the way we have gotten better every day.

"We are approaching the level at which we usually operate in international matches. I am personally very thrilled to have done very well in the fitness tests –strength, weight, speed and muscle components before heading home for a break," he added.

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