Teams are carefully following the SOP and hygiene practices to train safely.

It has been 12 days since the Indian men and women’s team resumed basic sporting activities on the hockey pitch at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru. After over two months of staying indoors during the nationwide lockdown, the captains stated that their team’s approach right now is to resume cautiously and slowly.

Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh said, “Since all of us had been doing some basic fitness exercises in our hostel rooms in these two months, we were not stiff when we returned to the pitch but we are taking it slow and steady. We are going about a very simple routine without putting too much pressure on our bodies.”

While the teams are following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and guidelines specified by SAI and Hockey India, Manpreet feels the players have become very conscious of following social distancing and keeping up with hygiene practices.

He remarked, “Our sessions are conducted in small groups to ensure social distancing. Earlier, we never used hand sanitizers in between sessions and we would use the same tumbler to drink water. But all that has changed now with players consciously rubbing their hands with sanitizers, not just before entering the ground.”

“Every-time there is a break, each one of us carries our bottles and ensure we don’t share. We also change the grip on our stick regularly and our temperature is recorded after the session as well and it is monitored closely every day to check for any irregularities. This is the ‘new normal’ for us and we need to follow it.”

Rani Rampal, meanwhile, expressed that the coaching staff discussed with each player individually once they resumed on-field activities. She said, “After we began basic activities on the pitch last week, the coaches discussed with us individually how we are feeling both mentally and physically. All players are urged to express any issues they are facing and coaching staff check with us about the well-being of our families.”

“We are back to basics right now with simple activities such as passing, trapping and goal-shooting. I am taking it slow too and not stressing my back or shoulder too much. All of us realise it is important to start slow to avoid any kind of injury and we just want to enjoy being back on the field again.”

Although the teams’ mantra has been to re-start slow and steady, they remain focused on their goal of performing well at the Olympic Games next year.

“Over the next few months, each of us has a plan and a target to improve our game. Internally, we are focusing on little things that we need to do to be as good as possible for the Olympics next year,” Manpreet concluded.