Indian hockey teams have looked in good rhythm ahead of Tokyo Olympics.
- Indian hockey teams have been in good form in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics
- HI president Gyanendro Ningombam said the team continue to play intra-squads matches for practice
- Ningombam is also confident that Indian hockey teams are ready to create history in Tokyo
Given the historic record of the Indian men’s hockey team at the Olympics, every time the quadrennial event kicks off, expectations are high from the Indian hockey teams. While Indian hockey teams have produced eight gold medals at the showpiece event, their last top finish came way back in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The postponement of FIH Pro League matches against Germany and Spain due to the pandemic might have come as a blow to India’s preparations, but Hockey India (HI) has ensured that the players continue to practice and do not lose rhythm.
Speaking to timesnownews.com, HI president Gyanendro Ningombam spoke about the teams’ preparations for the biggest sporting extravaganza, the podcast series launched by HI which has become the talk of the town, and also how the safety of the players is of paramount importance for the management going into the Games.
What have been some of the new initiatives by Hockey India to keep the players motivated with not much action happening around?
The Olympics is the biggest competition in any sportsperson’s life and therefore the players are always motivated to put their best foot forward in the quadrennial tournament. Even without tournaments, the players are carrying out high-intensity practice sessions to achieve their goals. Since they are not playing matches at the moment, the players play intra-squad matches every week. The weekly matches are a simulation of an international match, which brings out the best in all players.
There has been a lot of talk around the podcast series. Whose idea was it and what has been the feedback from the players?
Hockey India launched the Hockey Te Charcha podcast series to give the hockey fans a chance to relive some of the most glorious moments of Indian hockey by listening to some great players on the series. The Hockey India communications team came up with the idea and launched the series exactly 100 days ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The podcast series has received great feedback from the players. Everyone has absolutely enjoyed listening to fascinating tales from the past.
The Indian men’s hockey team has produced a stellar show in the last 2-3 months. What has been the biggest change?
The Indian team has been doing very well in the last few years. They performed fantastically in the FIH Hockey Pro League last year before other tournaments had to be cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The players have gained a lot of confidence through their performances and that confidence showed on the field during their tours of Europe and Argentina this year. The team has started playing an aggressive brand of hockey, which has helped them a lot.
These are challenging times due to Covid-19. How is Hockey India prepping up for the mega event and what are some of the major concerns?
The safety of our players is our highest priority as far as the Olympic Games is concerned. The players are preparing well for the mega event in a safe and secure environment at the SAI campus in Bengaluru, thanks to the Sports Authority of India. We will continue to support the athletes and promote them ahead of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
India has a rich history in terms of medals won at Olympics in Hockey. Keeping the preparations in mind, what can the fans expect from the teams this time around?
The Indian Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams have competed well against the top sides in the world in the last few years. On their day, they can defeat any team in the world. They have been working very hard for the Olympics for the last four-five years and they are absolutely ready to create history in Tokyo. The fans can definitely expect to see a competitive and strong Indian performance from both Indian teams.