Indian hockey players returned to the turf for training on Monday morning after nearly 70 days; the first team sport in India to resume training after the lockdown was imposed in India.
It was vastly different from what they are used to but for a player, It was largely about the satisfying feeling of the ball hitting the stick again.
The players had been developing a sense of frustration as since one month they were not allowed to train despite spending most of the lockdown inside the Bengaluru campus of Sports Authority of India.
And when Government showed them a green signal mid-May, the wait got extended as a SAI officer tested positive for the Coronavirus and passed away. They had to spend two weeks in complete isolation due to that incident before stepping on to the field again.
Teams divided into two groups
According to the Social distancing protocols, the teams have been divided into two groups. Half of them resumed training on the hockey turf while the rest began the ‘unlockdown’ with some fitness drills.
A group of women players, spent their morning on the football ground where they performed tasks given by physio Wayne Parnell. The men, too, followed the same pattern. On Tuesday, both groups swapped their tasks.
Divided groups meant full-fledged training wasn’t possible but basic passing and receiving drills were also part of the session which last about 90 minutes.
“That was the only thing possible because of the distancing norms. Initially, that’s what our training will look like,” a source quoted.
Full training still distant
The coaches and assistant coaches of both teams, too, had to maintain a distance from the players. That meant they could only observe and give instructions from the touchline and not be involved in the action as they usually are during training. After each session, the turf was sprayed with disinfectants.
The teams are likely to begin full training only after SAI and Hockey India give them the green signal.
Hockey India, on their part, in the Standard Operating Procedure for the national teams, had in fact suggested full-contact training for the teams since they had been in quarantine.
Indian hockey behind Belgium and Netherlands
Belgium and the Netherlands are ahead of India by almost a month in terms of restarting training. The 2018 World Cup finalists were given permission by their respective governments last month.
They too had to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5m during their 90-minute session, meaning only passing drills were possible like India. Australian players, too, have been given the go-ahead to resume their training.