Players focussed on attaining peak fitness: Hockey captain Manpreet

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) | Publish Date: 9/23/2020 1:05:50 PM IST

Senior men’s hockey probables at the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Bengaluru centre are currently focussed on getting as close as possible to peak fitness and are not concerned with changes being effected in the coaching staff, says India captain Manpreet Singh.

Analytical coach Chris Ciriello is the latest high profile foreign coach to resign from his post, after high-performance director David John and physiotherapist David MacDonald.

“Our focus is on our fitness levels. It is something that we have not really worked on for a long time. The Olympic Games are coming up next year and just before that there are quite a few matches, possibly in the Asian Champions Trophy and the Pro League,” Manpreet told IANS.

“We have to be ready for all that and we have this year to prepare for it. We are also having dicussions on tactics, trying to improve in areas we were lagging behind as individuals,” he said. The 28-year-old, who has been at the centre since early August, was one of six players who started training later than the rest as they tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival at the SAI southern centre. Manpreet feels holding the national camp now, rather than later in the year, gives players a chance to get close to their peak fitness by the time a tournament comes around. “We all know that this was the right time to hold the camp. If this had happened in December then we would have regained full fitness only by around February or March,” he said.

“For players like me who tested positive there is no doubt that we would have easily lost two months in trying to prepare. So, it is good that Hockey India and SAI held the camp now because we can regain fitness and by the time the tournaments start, we can even get back to our peak.”

The earliest possible tournament for the team is the Asian Champions Trophy. Originally scheduled to be held from November 17 to 27, the Champions Trophy has now been rescheduled for March 11-19. And Graham Reid and Sjoerd Marijne -- the men’s and women’s coach respectively -- have spoken of their desire to take their teams on foreign tours before that.

“We have the Asian Champions Trophy, which will be played in March. We also have the Pro League coming up the next year and then of course the Olympics. The coaches may also plan some sort of a foreign tour in the coming days,” said Manpreet. The players are yet to start full-fledged training, in accordance with SAI’s Standard Operating Procedure for training because of the pandemic. Manpreet said that the players were focussed on getting as close as possible to how fit they were before the lockdown started. “For those of us who had recovered from Covid were given a step-by-step plan on how to catch up with our teammates and it was a slow process. We started off with walking exercises just after we tested negative. Then those walking drills were replaced by jogging and so on.”



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