The Indian hockey staff was driving excessive on success within the Professional League match at the beginning of the yr. A win over the Netherlands in January was adopted by a win over the World Champions Belgium in February. India additionally made sensational comeback towards Australia in the identical month, and the staff was wanting destined for achievement on the Tokyo Olympics 2020 which was to start in July.

However the Covid-19 pandemic introduced a halt to the sporting world. The Professional League video games have been stopped. Tokyo Olympics have been postponed for a yr. In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced a nationwide lockdown. On the time, the Indian hockey groups, together with the teaching employees, needed to stay contained in the SAI middle in Bengaluru, away from households.

Now, with restrictions beginning to raise up, the Indian staff gamers returned dwelling final month. With one yr left for the Tokyo Olympics to go, India males’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh’s whole focus is on making certain his staff’s health ranges don’t go down at a time when coaching has not but restarted and there aren’t any aggressive tournaments going down.

In an unique interview with Hindustan Occasions, Manpreet speaks on the life amid lockdown at SAI Heart in Bengaluru, and the plans to arrange for Tokyo 2020.


Q) You all have been at SAI Heart when the lockdown was introduced with the remainder of the staff. Inform us a bit about these days?

“After we have been beneath the lockdown, we went again to the drafting board. We saved our concentrate on the game. We have been having communication amongst ourselves and analysing our opponents. We needed to know extra in regards to the groups we’d be going through sooner or later. We have been finding out them – their strengths and weaknesses. Which participant from the opposition’s staff is extra harmful, who’s weak. We have been doing all of this. So, we had fairly a productive time there. Although issues exterior weren’t going effectively, our staff utilised that point fairly successfully.”

Q) Staying away from household in such unprecedented occasions should be troublesome. How did you retain your self constructive and motivated?

“Sure, it was robust. However to maintain myself motivated and constructive, I learn fairly a couple of books. I additionally watched the Michael Jordan Documentary ‘The Final Dance’ on Netflix. It was fairly good. It gave me constructive vibes and I acquired to be taught rather a lot from it. Cash Heist was additionally working on Netflix on the time, so I watched that as effectively.


“I learn fairly a couple of books on how I can keep constructive, and the way can I improve my thoughts. I used to be watching on-line sequence which may also help me in matches. I used to be additionally watching on-line movies of Cristiano Ronaldo. I learn rather a lot about prime athletes who’ve battled exhausting occasions to turn out to be huge.”

Q) What all you discovered from the lockdown interval that you just consider may assist you to on a private stage?

“On a private stage, I discovered numerous issues. The largest factor I discovered was the significance of exhausting work. Although I used to be in my room, my focus remained that I don’t wish to achieve weight, and I must maintain myself match. So, even after I was within the room, I did all of the workout routines that I may do. I knew health is essential for my recreation, so I used to be personally specializing in it rather a lot. I used to be simply making an attempt that every one the gamers stay constructive and all of us maintain speaking with one another.”

Q) Inform us a reminiscence throughout lockdown at SAI Heart in Bangalore which you’ll keep in mind eternally?

“I’d at all times keep in mind the bonding that developed between the staff. It was so sturdy. Even in such a troublesome time, we stayed collectively. If there was any downside, we’d share it amongst ourselves. So, I really feel it will assist us sooner or later as a result of all of us shared numerous private issues with one another. We grew to become even nearer. Generally, when you’re going through troublesome occasions, it turns into exhausting to remain constructive. However all of us remained in a constructive headspace. And we might at all times get constructive vibes from each one. I’ll at all times keep in mind we hung out like a household.”

Q) You returned dwelling final month. How did you are feeling returning dwelling and assembly household?

“It was nice to achieve dwelling and meet my household. However more often than not we, as athletes, keep out of the house. My staff is like my second household. So, I get pleasure from rather a lot with them as a result of I come dwelling only some occasions. So, I reached dwelling, met my mom, it felt good. However I at all times miss my staff. All of the batchmates have enjoyable with one another, pull one another’s legs, we get pleasure from with one another, and share a couple of laughs.”

Q) The camp has not began but. What are you doing in your free time?

“I’m focusing utterly on my health on the time. I’m going for biking early morning. Within the morning and night, we’re following this system given to us by Robin Arkell sir on the gyms. We consider that we should always not endure a dip in our health ranges as a result of it will make it troublesome for us to return to camp and restart every thing if we don’t stay match. I additionally grew to become part of Adidas’ ‘what’s another’ marketing campaign, which has been designed to push us to work exhausting for an additional yr to win medals from Tokyo Olympics subsequent yr. Everybody desires all of the athletes to win medals in Tokyo subsequent yr.”

Q) With restricted coaching and no aggressive video games prior to now few months, would the gamers return to the identical stage of health and expertise that they had earlier than the pandemic?

“To make sure that we stay at par with what our stage of efficiency was earlier than the lockdown, we’re focusing our health in the meanwhile. As I mentioned, crucial factor in the meanwhile is that our health ranges shouldn’t be dropped. Our coaches additionally need us to keep up our health. In order that they ship us packages day by day to take action. They maintain chatting with us and asking us if we have to make a change in any program. They maintain asking us what sort of working program we’d like.


“One factor that should be famous is that the lockdown scenario has been the identical everywhere in the world for different groups – and never only for India. The coaching has not totally began in most nations in the meanwhile. After we return to the camp, our foremost concern can be to select up from the place we had left off. We would want to carry our health ranges again to the identical stage. We are going to discuss our opponents collectively which we are going to face within the Professional League and on the Olympics. We are going to look to enhance our strengths and scale back our weaknesses.”

Q) FIH has introduced a schedule for Professional League schedule subsequent yr. Do you are feeling that it’s going to assist the staff in planning the coaching schedule with some form of goal in thoughts?

“Professional League schedule will actually assist us. While you get to play huge groups earlier than the Olympics. So, we are going to get to play Professional League matches earlier than the Tokyo Video games. We are able to check out kids, and take a look at new variations in our staff. So we’ve numerous issues which we will attempt in these Professional League video games.”

Q) How will the planning and targets for the Tokyo Olympics change with the change in coaching and competitors schedule?

“We consider that once we return to the camp, we wish to work on bettering ourselves and never fear about issues which aren’t beneath our management. We don’t see what else is happening, we wish to work on issues which we’ve in our fingers. If we concentrate on issues out of our management, we won’t be able to focus and our minds will stay diverted. The coaches consider that we simply must concentrate on ourselves as a substitute of what else is occurring round us. We are going to work on our attacking, protection, our expertise once we return on the camp.”

Q) So, the goal remains to be to win a medal in Tokyo?

“100 %. Our intention is to win a medal on the Olympics. How the staff has carried out prior to now yr, we’re fairly assured that we’ll earn a podium berth in Tokyo subsequent yr.”