It's been a little over a month since Indian Men's Hockey Team Skipper Manpreet Singh along with five other players tested positive for Covid-19. While his symptoms were mild, there were anxious times that demanded him to remain upbeat. "It was not easy, especially mentally" is his prompt response when asked to describe the time spent in hospital and subsequently going through isolation in SAI, Bengaluru while the rest of his teammates had begun sports activities.
"I have not done anything for a month and that's a long time in a sportsperson's career especially when every day is about improving and being the best," he added.
But Manpreet and five others players who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus feel fortunate to have a fantastic support system that constantly monitored their well-being. "To be honest, initially when the results came out, we were slightly stressed. But Hockey India officials, particularly the CEO (Elena Norman), was quick to assure us of all the support and told us not to worry about hockey or how this will impact our future in the sport. She emphasized that we need to get better first and that Hockey India along with SAI would ensure best treatment and rehab. This was reassuring and true to their words, we received best facilities in the hospital with SAI sending us healthy food every day for the five days that we were in the hospital and constantly checked with the medical team there of our well-being," explained Manpreet Singh.
He emphasized that during the isolation in SAI for two weeks, they were checked on every day by Hockey India officials to know if there were any shortfalls. He said, "Hockey India officials would check on us almost every day if the food being provided is good, if our tele-treatment was done regularly, if we are monitoring our oxygen levels regularly and so on. Coaching Staff and teammates too would check on us through video calls. These things really helped us remain upbeat. Though it did sting a little to know all our teammates were back on the pitch while we were still in isolation, I feel this experience has made me mentally tougher to face any situation," he admitted.
Manpreet and five other teammates on completing the isolation were put through general tests after which the doctors expressed, they were fit to resume activities. "We underwent a general check-up after two weeks of isolation. We got ECG, blood test and chest X-ray done and only after the doctor gave us a go ahead, we have begun very basic activities from last week. While SAI is putting together a post-recovery action plan to ensure smooth return to sports activities, Chief Coach engages in one-on-one pep talk with us that gives us confidence of returning to old form soon. Our Scientific Advisor Robin Arkel has been a great support too since the Covid-19 pandemic began," Manpreet said.
Looking back at the past five months which involved over 2 months of staying indoors in SAI, Bengaluru and the subsequent 6-week break before returning to Bengaluru again, Manpreet said as players they are fortunate to receive best care. "From my personal experience, I can say we were very fortunate to get the best care. All through the lockdown, good coordination between Hockey India and SAI ensured players' best interest was given top priority. Our fitness was maintained throughout with a good indoor workout regime planned by the Support Staff. We were given a break just when we were starting to feel mentally fatigued and had begun missing our families. When we came back, the authorities ensured we were all tested, provided best care and a secure bio bubble was formed in campus to keep us from getting exposed to the virus. The SOP to return to sports activities was made well in advance by Hockey India and approved in time by SAI so that our Olympic preparation is not hampered and we would have enough time to return to old form before competitions begin. It is overwhelming to receive this kind of support and we are determined to make all their efforts worthwhile by performing well," stated the confident Skipper.