Fine-tuning individual skills and training in small groups could be the new norm for India's hockey players once the Sports Ministry decides to resume training of athletes across the country. Devoid of on-field action for more than one-and-half months due to the coronavirus-forced national lockdown, the Indian men and women hockey team players are desperate to return to the turf and hinted that they would be suggesting Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to resume training in small groups keeping social distancing norms in mind.
Rijiju has been conducting a series of online sessions with athletes of various sporting disciplines to get their feedback on resumption of on-field training and will be interacting with the hockey players on Thursday. "It is an unprecedented situation which we never expected in our life. We have been stuck in our rooms (at SAI centre in Bengaluru) since the start of lockdown but the good thing is that we have all facilities here to keep our body in good shape," a senior member of the men's hockey team told PTI.
"We have an online meeting with the Sports Minister tomorrow where we will suggest him to start individual training in the ground like working on individuals skills, shooting, 3D skills. We can start practicing individually or say in a group of five with a trainer by following all safety norms like, wearing masks and social distancing etc because the ground in Bengaluru is very big," he added.
A member of the women's team agreed with her male counterpart and said with the Tokyo Olympics postponed by a year, a full throttle training can be avoided for the time being as it will take some time for international hockey to resume. "Physically, we are maintaining our best shape but we are missing on-field training. We have never been away from the field for such a long time," the player said on condition of anonymity. We have been doing exercises at our rooms and have been doing gym sessions in a group of two by maintaining social distancing. We can avoid body contacts by doing away with tackling at present during training," the player said.
Both the Indian men and women teams are stuck in SAI South Centre in Bengaluru since the start of the lockdown on March 25. "We have been doing individual exercises at room besides gym sessions in a group of 2 players only," the player said. "Coaches are continuously giving us inputs through online, calls and whenever we meet them personally...so everything is going on fine but we can't wait to resume training."
Training has been suspended across Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres since mid-March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is currently witnessing the third phase of lockdown, which ends on May 17 but Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a fourth phase of lockdown with new norms and rules, which are yet to be made public.