The six hockey players who contracted COVID-19 last month have blended in with the rest of their teammates and are on the cusp of peak fitness, Graham Reed, head coach of the men’s national team, said on Saturday. Captain Manpreet Singh, Surinder Kumar, Jaskaran Singh, Varun Kumar, Krishan Bahadur Pathak and Mandeep Singh were discharged from a hospital in Bangalore on August 17 and remained in quarantine for a few more days before joining the team. “They have integrated with the team and so they do what others do. They started 2-3 weeks after the others started. They started at a slow level but are now close to the level of the other players (in fitness),” Reed said during a webinar organized by Hockey India.
“It’s a serious illness and you might think you’re fine, but in reality, it might not be. So, I was pleased with the tests. They were discovered and treated.”
When asked specifically about the current condition of the six players, he said: “We are testing (the players) this week along with the rest of the team. We are reasonably happy about their fitness, but there is still a long way to go to get to our maximum fitness level. .”
The Australian said he hopes all players will have full training in the next 4-5 weeks.
“We have basic things and internal matches and we will reach full training and hopefully in 4-5 weeks. But it seems that the international matches are far away.”
The national camp for both the men’s and women’s teams resumed on August 19 at the Sports Authority of India Center in Bengaluru.
The women’s coach, Schord Marine, warned players not to use the full throttle and risk injury.
“You have to be patient, you can’t achieve full fitness quickly. It takes a long time. You need to get out of this without injury,” he said.
“A lot of hamstring injuries happen in football leagues like the Bundesliga, the Premier League. If you start too fast you risk injuries and you could be out for six months for example. So, don’t underestimate these wasted months.”
He said players will need 4 to 5 weeks after peaking to be able to play competitive matches.
The men’s and women’s goalkeepers B Srejesh and Savita said the players had started from the basics and had yet to train at full strength.
“The first two weeks of basic training helped us. We are in good shape now,” Srejesh said.
“It was very difficult to adapt to the situation at first, but when we came back after the break everyone started to adapt and get used to it. Every player knows that. We know what will keep us fit with the ultimate goal being the Olympics.”
Reed also said he will speak to the coaches and players of Germany and Belgium teams about standard operating procedures in connection with the start of FIH Pro League matches.
Topics mentioned in this article