Indian Hockey coach Graham Reid riding in Tokyo Olympics selection hood

Graham Reid is obsessive about the small particulars.

As soon as, earlier than the Rio Olympics, he made Australia’s hockey gamers sit in a bus for 45 minutes. Why? “We’ve seen in earlier campaigns, once you get your bus to go from the airport to the village, or from the village to a venue, it would get misplaced,” Reid, who was Australia’s coach in Rio, says. “So we have been simply mimicking the state of affairs.”

With just some weeks to go for the Tokyo Olympics, Reid, now the coach of the Indian group, has greater issues to fret about than the bus dropping its devoted lane – he first has to select the gamers who can be on that bus. That course of began on Thursday. The hockey group marked the 50-day countdown by kicking off a six-match intra-squad sequence, which can resolve the 16-member group for the Olympics.

It may not be the best solution to choose the squad, particularly when India’s opponents are attending to play some high-level worldwide video games. Final week, Australia and New Zealand performed a four-match bilateral sequence – their first task in greater than a 12 months – which served as a selection trial for gamers from the 2 international locations. Beginning Friday, the 5 European groups which have certified for the Video games – the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, Spain and Germany – will compete in their continental championship, placing them in the right zone earlier than the Olympics.

The Indian group doesn’t have this luxurious although Hockey India tried to rearrange excursions. The journey restrictions imposed on travellers from the nation following the second wave imply the Indian group has been caught contained in the Sports activities Authority of India’s Bengaluru Centre. So, Reid has needed to improvise.

The 33 probables have been divided into two groups that may play three units of two matches every in 12 days. After one set, the groups can be shuffled so the teaching workers can attempt completely different mixtures. Certainly, the core of the Indian group selects itself however the battle is intense for just a few spots, particularly in the attacking division.

“These should not follow video games, they’re not muck-around video games,” Reid says. “These are full-on, it’s essential to present all the pieces you’ve received as a result of that’s the way you additionally ensure that we’re able to carry out at that (Olympics) degree.”

After the final match can be performed on June 14, Reid can have the unenviable job of breaking the information to half of the probables that they haven’t made the minimize. The temper is ‘tense’, Reid says, which could be regular in an Olympic 12 months however demanding nonetheless. “You’ve gotten strain, it’s a really demanding interval for the athletes and coaches as effectively. It’s individuals’s lives that you’re coping with, and goals and visions… individuals have dreamt of going to the Olympics since they have been 5 years outdated. So it’s fairly a demanding time,” Reid says.

Inside the limitations, Reid is attempting to simulate the circumstances India may encounter in Tokyo, beginning with the climate. The six matches can be performed in keeping with the timing of India’s video games on the Olympics and with the climate anticipated to be scorching and humid through the Video games, some can be held in the afternoons.

Reid isn’t involved concerning the health ranges of the group – ‘actually, actually match’, he insists – however since India performs a high-speed, quick-passing type of hockey, the flexibility to deal with the warmth is one thing the coach is holding one eye on. “Togetherness is a very necessary factor too in my group,” he says.

Covid calculations, too, should be made. With the Worldwide Olympic Committee but to outline clearly the Covid protocols for group sports activities, there’s a whole lot of ambiguity as to what occurs if one member of the group will get contaminated.

Thierry Weil, the chief govt of the Worldwide Hockey Federation, says the IOC is ‘nonetheless consulting’ however one factor is certain, the matches gained’t be rescheduled. “The participant who checks optimistic can be quarantined and shut contacts can be examined. However for group sports activities, it’s not utterly finalised but. Will the complete group not play? IOC remains to be consulting with all of the completely different group sports activities,” Weil says.

In absence of well-established guidelines, Reid says will probably be paramount to have ‘flexibility throughout the group.’ “If in case you have a defender that will get injured or one thing, then you definitely’ve received somebody who can play in defence, but in addition in the midfield, additionally a striker. So that you want that form of flexibility,” he says.

These guidelines will have an effect past mere group mixtures. Since shut contacts can even be monitored, the group administration should fastidiously select room companions on the Olympic village. “We’re ready to listen to the complete particulars and precise implications about what occurs if somebody will get optimistic as a result of a number of the early discussions that got here out have been extra primarily based round particular person athletes and never groups,” Reid says. “That’s going to be popping out in the following week or so. And as soon as we all know a bit extra that we’ll be capable of plan room configurations and different issues.”

In his obsessive pursuit of particulars, Reid is relaxed about one factor: the motion restrictions imposed on athletes through the Olympics. The athletes can be examined on daily basis, have been suggested to socialize much less, journey solely from the village to the venue and eat their meals shortly, and in small teams.

“Funnily sufficient, we now have been residing like this for a while,” Reid says. “So whereas we’re mimicking all eventualities on the pitch, we’re just about used to the protocols off it.”

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