Hockey India has given a four-week break to the Indian national teams.

The Indian senior men’s and women’s hockey teams were stationed at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in Bengaluru for close to three months due to the nationwide lockdown, but on Friday were allowed to return to their respective homes for a month-long break.

Even though the players are used to spending close to 300 days a year away from their families, this period was different for each one of them as the world battles a pandemic. However, after having returned home over the weekend, the players have been able to reconnect with their loved ones and spend some quality time at their homes.

The Indian men’s team forward Mandeep Singh said he is fortunate to have this opportunity but wants to maintain his routine to ensure top performances once he is back to playing competitive hockey in the future.

Mandeep Singh remarked, “When I stepped inside the house, the energy I felt was just out of this world. I returned after such a long time so it was nice to meet my family and to spend time with them. However, I speak on behalf of all the players when I say that one thing we will not forget is to maintain our fitness and routine during this break.”

“We know it is imperative to remain in top shape, and we will be focused on that, and I am sure we will be helped by our families and friends as well,” added Mandeep Singh.

Captain Manpreet Singh also seemed delighted at the opportunity of not just meeting his mother and brother, but also his two pet dogs. He said, “It was such a great feeling to have returned home to my mother, brother and my two dogs, Sam and Rio. Even though I was in constant touch over video calls, I was looking forward to being back home, and all I can say is that it felt so good to be back home – it just gave me goosebumps.”

Meanwhile, the Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal returned to Shahbad, Haryana and could not hide her happiness. She said, “I know a lot of people had been craving to travel or to eat outside, but the only thing I had been craving during lockdown was meeting my family.”

“I am so happy that I am finally here and can spend some days with them. I am, of course, very thankful to Hockey India and SAI for having taken great care of us, and now my focus will be on maintaining my fitness even at home and making sure I spend my time with my loved ones.”

Midfielder Neha Goyal also expressed her excitement as she came back to meet her mother in Sonipat. She said, “During the early part of lockdown, my sister had come down to stay with my mother, but once the restrictions eased a bit, she had to return to her in-laws. When I came back and presented my mother with my ‘Hockey India Ajit Pal Singh Award for Midfielder of the Year 2019’ trophy, the happiness on her face was what I had missed seeing for the past three months.”

“So I am really happy to be back with her, and I am looking forward to helping her in daily chores as well. Of course we need to maintain our fitness schedules, and I will be focusing on that too along with spending some quality time with my mother,” concluded Neha.