Monday, 21 June, 2021
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‘Stressful time’: Reid improvises as selection process for Indian hockey team for Tokyo Olympics gets underway

Graham Reid is obsessive about the small particulars.

As soon as, earlier than the Rio Olympics, he made Australia’s hockey gamers sit in a bus for 45 minutes. Why? “We’ve seen in earlier campaigns, whenever you get your bus to go from the airport to the village, or from the village to a venue, it’s going to get misplaced,” Reid, who was Australia’s coach in Rio, says. “So we had been simply mimicking the situation.”

With just some weeks to go for the Tokyo Olympics, Reid, now the coach of the Indian group, has greater issues to fret about than the bus shedding its devoted lane – he first has to select the gamers who might be on that bus. That course of began on Thursday. The hockey group marked the 50-day countdown by kicking off a six-match intra-squad collection, which is able to resolve the 16-member group for the Olympics.

It won’t be the best solution to choose the squad, particularly when India’s opponents are attending to play some high-level worldwide video games. Final week, Australia and New Zealand performed a four-match bilateral collection – their first project in additional than a 12 months – which served as a variety trial for gamers from the 2 nations. Beginning Friday, the 5 European groups which have certified for the Video games – the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, Spain and Germany – will compete of their continental championship, placing them within the excellent zone earlier than the Olympics.

The Indian group doesn’t have this luxurious though Hockey India tried to rearrange excursions. The journey restrictions imposed on travellers from the nation following the second wave imply the Indian group has been caught contained in the Sports activities Authority of India’s Bengaluru Centre. So, Reid has needed to improvise.

Graham Reid, as his ex-colleagues from Australian and Dutch sides would testify, isn’t afraid of ‘difficult the gamers and making the comfy uncomfortable’. (FILE)

The 33 probables have been divided into two groups that can play three units of two matches every in 12 days. After one set, the groups might be shuffled so the teaching employees can attempt completely different mixtures. Certainly, the core of the Indian group selects itself however the battle is intense for just a few spots, particularly within the attacking division.

“These are usually not observe video games, they’re not muck-around video games,” Reid says. “These are full-on, it’s good to present every part you’ve bought as a result of that’s the way you additionally make it possible for we’re able to carry out at that (Olympics) stage.”
After the final match might be performed on June 14, Reid can have the unenviable process of breaking the news to half of the probables that they haven’t made the lower. The temper is ‘tense’, Reid says, which may be regular in an Olympic 12 months however irritating nonetheless. “You might have strain, it’s a really irritating interval for the athletes and coaches as properly. It’s individuals’s lives that you’re coping with, and goals and visions… individuals have dreamt of going to the Olympics since they had been 5 years outdated. So it’s fairly a irritating time,” Reid says.

Inside the limitations, Reid is making an attempt to simulate the circumstances India may encounter in Tokyo, beginning with the climate. The six matches might be performed based on the timing of India’s video games on the Olympics and with the climate anticipated to be sizzling and humid throughout the Video games, some might be held within the afternoons.

Reid isn’t involved in regards to the health ranges of the group – ‘actually, actually match’, he insists – however since India performs a high-speed, quick-passing type of hockey, the power to deal with the warmth is one thing the coach is retaining one eye on.

“Togetherness is a very essential factor too in my group,” he says.

Covid calculations, too, should be made. With the Worldwide Olympic Committee but to outline clearly the Covid protocols for group sports activities, there may be plenty of ambiguity as to what occurs if one member of the group will get contaminated.

Thierry Weil, the chief govt of the Worldwide Hockey Federation, says the IOC is ‘nonetheless consulting’ however one factor is bound, the matches gained’t be rescheduled. “The participant who assessments optimistic might be quarantined and shut contacts might be examined. However for group sports activities, it’s not fully finalised but. Will your entire group not play? IOC remains to be consulting with all of the completely different group sports activities,” Weil says.

In absence of well-established guidelines, Reid says it is going to be paramount to have ‘flexibility inside the group.’ “You probably have a defender that will get injured or one thing, then you definitely’ve bought somebody who can play in defence, but additionally within the midfield, additionally a striker. So that you want that type of flexibility,” he says.

These guidelines will have an effect past mere group mixtures. Since shut contacts may even be monitored, the group administration must fastidiously select room companions on the Olympic village. “We’re ready to listen to the total particulars and precise implications about what occurs if somebody will get optimistic as a result of a number of the early discussions that got here out had been extra primarily based round particular person athletes and never groups,” Reid says. “That’s going to be popping out within the subsequent week or so. And as soon as we all know a bit extra that we’ll have the ability to plan room configurations and different issues.”

In his obsessive pursuit of particulars, Reid is relaxed about one factor: the motion restrictions imposed on athletes throughout the Olympics. The athletes might be examined on daily basis, have been suggested to socialize much less, journey solely from the village to the venue and eat their meals rapidly, and in small teams.

“Funnily sufficient, we’ve been dwelling like this for a while,” Reid says. “So whereas we’re mimicking all situations on the pitch, we’re just about used to the protocols off it.”

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