Dubai: As the one-year countdown began for both Indian men and women’s hockey teams for the postponed edition of Tokyo Olympic Games, both the chief coaches urged them to be ‘‘mentally strong’’ to last in this campaign.
Graham Reid, the Australian chief coach of men’s team and a silver medallist in 1992 Barcelona Olympics, put 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 focused 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 gameplan will be ahead,” he said.
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 do have 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 told the Hockey India website.
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 Olympics, we will be able to make further plans on how to get competition-ready
Sjoerd Marijne, women’s chief coach, virtually echoed Reid’s sentiments: “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 Olympics, we will be able to make further plans on how to get competition-ready.”
The Dutchman further reflected the feelings of players, who in a normal scenario, would have already been in Tokyo now 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.
“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 rounded off.