The Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the Tokyo Olympics was announced just last week, and many people were surprised, as 10 of the 16 Players will be making their Olympic debut. The Men’s hockey team is a favourite for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, with their performance and rank being high and consistent.
16 players were chosen, restricting the play more, as usually 18 players would be a part of the team. Versatility is the name of the game this year, because if one player gets injured, the other players need to be versatile enough to cover for him. That was an important factor in choosing the team.
The Dynamics of the Indian Hockey Team are Important for the Tokyo Olympics
Graham Reid said with much importance, “Heat and humidity were factors behind team selection. Flexibility was also taken into account.”
He said that modern hockey is not only about how to play with the ball, but even how to play off the ball. The team mentality is very important, and are a team of players who have been selected. The newer players have been chosen as they have progressed well in the last 24 months, playing in junior World Cups.
Shreejesh, Manpreet Singh and Birendra Lakra missed out in the 2016 Olympics due to injuries, are a part of the squad this year. Surprisingly, veterans like SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh were left out.
Only one goalkeeper, Shreejesh, has been selected for the team, leaving out Krishan Bahadur Pathak. However coach said that he is preparing other players, who will remain unnamed, as reserves incase Shreejesh cannot play for some reason.
Finally Reid said, “Modern sport these days is very much in the mental sphere. It is important to understand their journeys. Indians do not understand how mentally agile they are. But the skills aspect is also important. I don’t know where to draw a line as both are important. In the last 15 months, I have got to know my players very well, the mentality of the group, and their stories in a 10-minute one-on-one video which is very powerful. We have to understand that they were in a bio bubble and when the chips are down in Tokyo this tough mentality will help them get through.“
Indian Team is a Favourite to win a Medal This Year at the Tokyo Olympics
The Indian team has had a very good period of tours before the pandemic hit. “Playing internal games and playing close to the intensity of the world cup level is very important. After every training match, we measured the intensity of the training sessions. In 2019 we could not play many international games and yet we beat Australia, Belgium in Pro League. This definitely boosts the morale and confidence of the team.”
Thinking tactically, the Indian team will have a good chance at winning if they practice their shootouts, and they have been doing so intensely. Indian Men’s team captain, Manpreet Singh said it was an honour to play for India at the Tokyo Olympics. He said that they had good form before lockdown, when they played to Pro League. They used the lockdown to work on their weaknesses and increase their overall team effort and bond.
With the Tokyo Olympics only a month away, the pressure is on the athletes to perform while maintaining safety during this Covid 19 Pandemic.