The COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding, the Indian women’s hockey team is going ahead with its plans to resume “intense training” from next week, with striker Navneet Kaur eying an outing at an Olympics which look doubtful at the moment.
The team is grouped in Pool A for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games where they will play against top ranked teams such as the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland apart from South Africa.
“We will play our first match against the Netherlands at the Olympics and quite frankly, we are really excited to play against them because we have not faced them in the past,” an optimistic Kaur said.
“We don’t fear playing against these teams and are focused on preparing well. We are currently undergoing a week-long recovery which involves light gym session, stretching and swimming pool recovery.
“Resting well is also emphasised before we resume intense training from next week,” she added.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has claimed more than 8000 lives and infected over 2 lakh people across the world.
She attributed the Indian team’s upswing in recent times to a “change in attitude”.
“Apart from winning important matches, I think there are a lot of other factors that have contributed to this change and one of them being chief coach Sjoerd’s style of play.
“He likes aggression, he has instilled that belief in us that we are a team that can play with good speed in our attack,” she said.
“The chief coach always tells us it’s not over until the last whistle. Even during the half-time of the Olympic Qualifiers, he said we will begin the third quarter as though the scores are 0-0. We have been instilled with that fighting spirit,” she explained.
Fitness had been one of the key factors in the team’s recent performance and Kaur says the team has great awareness about fitness, recovery and diet.
“I also believe our improvement in fitness has been another big factor. Every girl (including new comers) is aware of the importance of fitness, recovery and diet.
“Apart from this, small things like support staff encouraging us to improve internal communication, point out openly in meetings about what we can do differently in training sessions etc,” added Kaur who scored 10 goals last year.