New Delhi, July 25 : Exactly a year from now, the Indian men and women's hockey teams would have begun their campaign at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The women's team would have taken on World No.1 Netherlands while the men's team would have played New Zealand on July 24, 2021.
The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be played this year but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been postponed till summer of 2021.
Leading up to their first match, it is imperative to have an unshakeable attitude to brave the toughest opponents in the world. Chief coach Graham Reid, a silver medal winner from the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, puts things into perspective.
"The Olympic Games is the toughest competition in the sporting world and therefore a player's mentality has to match it. The biggest challenge as a player is to remain focussed on the job at hand. The first game brings with it a number of emotions. The player who can control those emotions and stick to the game plan will be ahead," Reid said.
While there is room to improve in all aspects of the game, Reid emphasised on building a mentally tough team to face these 'uncertain times'. "The biggest challenge for us during these next 12 months will be uncertainty. There are a lot of things that are going to happen that we can't control. We must only worry about the things we can control," he said adding that the Indian players possess an innate quality to handle tough times.
"We can control how hard we work, how well we train and our fitness levels. Mental toughness will definitely be a factor during this next period and the Indian players have an innate ability to deal with difficult circumstances. It is my intention to develop the players understanding of their mental strength and build their ability to access and trust it when required," Reid stated.
Reflecting on Reid's views, women's team head coach Sjoerd Marijne said, "We live in challenging times where we need to have a 'step by step' approach. For now, we await to return to the national camp and begin training. Once we know when we can resume our preparations for the Olympic Games, we will be able to make further plans on how to get competition-ready." He further reflected the feelings of players who in a normal scenario would have already been in Tokyo today and completed their first match against Netherlands.
"When you think of it, it is quite annoying because we had channelled all our energies into being in Tokyo this time of the year competing at the highest level. But realising there is a pandemic still threatening lives of millions around the globe, we quickly put things into perspective again," Marijne said adding that it's important to focus on the positives which is to grow further as a team.
"I am someone who believes in creating positive opportunities and an extra year gives us the opportunity to grow further as a team. Our first focus will be to start training as soon as possible and then play international matches as soon as feasible," he concluded.