Graham Reid calls it the Groundhog Day syndrome.
In the 1993 fantasy-comedy, Bill Murray wakes up each morning and realises he’s reliving the identical day over and over. Reid has skilled one thing related within the final a number of weeks.
In June, the Indian hockey gamers and coaches on the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru went dwelling for a break that stretched almost two months. Reid, the Australian coach of the lads’s group, and his spouse Julia selected to not journey in the midst of the pandemic and stayed again.
As the variety of Covid-19 instances in the remainder of Bengaluru surged, the SAI facility felt like a secure zone. The campus chef additionally ensured they didn’t miss a meal. What they did miss, although, was human contact.
For near 50 days, the couple was by themselves contained in the centre – a sprawling, 100-acre campus; barely uphill, within the outskirts of the town and in the midst of what resembles a forest. Occasionally, a snake or two would slither previous Reid as he went on a stroll.
But their fixed companions have been the stray canine contained in the campus, with whom the 2 developed a bond. “Because there was no one, the dogs were struggling with their food. Julia loves animals… she talks to the dogs a little bit,” Reid says. “One day, I told her, ‘Julia, I don’t mind you talking to the dogs…’ but she was talking to the washing machine!” the Reids chuckle.
A touch of humour was important to see off the part, which the 56-year-old utilised to grasp the gamers and their struggles higher. Before they went on a break, Reid had obtained them to inform their tales on video. After they have been gone, he enhanced it with some slick modifying. “I incorporated photos of their families and past games into their interviews. The amount of struggle everyone has gone through their lives is incredible, especially when you compare it to others from Australia or Holland,” he says.
Reid’s plan is to share the video with your entire squad within the coming months as a team-building train nearer to the Tokyo Olympics.
Forced to steer clear of the turf as a result of pandemic, there’s not rather a lot that he, or the others, may do. The final time India – each girls’s and males’s groups – had a full-fledged, high-intensity coaching session was in March. Although socially-distanced coaching has resumed, it can nonetheless be some extra time earlier than they’ll be capable of return to the previous coaching routines. And matches will take even longer.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the world is transferring on. Europe begins aggressive hockey subsequent month – with the home league adopted by the FIH Pro League, the worldwide physique’s flagship match involving the world’s prime 9 nationwide groups. The Indian gamers, nonetheless, will solely be distant spectators, watching them play on their laptop screens and analysing them.
With the pandemic nonetheless posing a menace in India, and given the journey restrictions, all commitments of the nationwide groups have been wiped off for this 12 months. Competitive hockey, for the ladies’s and males’s groups, will start solely in January 2021.
For Reid and his girls’s group counterpart, Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, the state of affairs is exclusive. Both have had a relaxing affect on their groups. But to maintain the gamers affected person, particularly when the remainder of the hockey world is transferring on, will likely be a problem. The final time the ladies’s group performed a aggressive match was in January, whereas the lads final performed in February. Now, they’ve began a six-week camp, and presumably for an additional six weeks after that, realizing there’s nothing to look ahead to this 12 months.
Although, there’s one other proposal on the desk.
“In the back of my mind, I hope we can go to The Netherlands in October. We have made a request because the activities there have begun and we can play matches against good teams,” Marijne says, explaining that the resumption of the Dutch league and Pro League will give his facet some first rate match follow. Reid provides: “It will be a good motivating factor and we hope to go. But I don’t think realistically that’s going to happen the way things are panning out right now.”
Curiously, the Sports Authority of India stated they’ve acquired no such proposal from Hockey India.
Plan B is to have intra-squad matches together with a gradual enhance within the coaching workload. Marijne, beneath whom the ladies’s group has made substantial progress, just isn’t fearful in regards to the health of the gamers, who he says ‘followed the fitness programme in a disciplined manner’ throughout the quarantine days in addition to whereas they have been at dwelling. His agenda is so as to add new dimensions to their sport, by introducing completely different performs, and making them faster to execute his give-and-go type higher.
For Reid, the main focus is to first convey their ‘basics back to a reasonable level’ earlier than advancing to play matches inside the group.
January onwards, the calendar returns to some sort of normalcy. The girls’s group, Marijne says, will begin subsequent 12 months with a coaching tour to Singapore adopted by the Asian Champions Trophy in March. A visit to Australia is being deliberate for April and the ending touches to the preparations for the Tokyo Games will likely be utilized within the Netherlands, the place they’re prone to journey in June.
The males hope to start 2021 in Kuala Lumpur, the place they’ve organized for follow matches and joint coaching periods with The Netherlands. That will likely be adopted by a four-nation match in New Zealand and the Asian Champions Trophy in Dhaka, earlier than their Pro League season resumes in April.
Both Reid and Marijne know all this comes with an enormous ‘conditions apply’ warning. But for now, they’re simply relieved that the tedious Groundhog Days have was the nice previous coaching days.