Postponement opens window of opportunity for Tokyo Games: Graham Reid

Young players like Vivek Sagar Prasad, Raj Kumar Pal and Hardik Singh have impressed under Indian hockey’s Australian coach Graham Reid.

By Subhayan Dutta

India’s men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid believes that Tokyo Olympics’ postponement until next year will give opportunities to many young players, who weren’t otherwise in contention for the Olympic squad.

Apart from taking the Indian hockey team to No. 4 in the FIH rankings, Graham Reid has also nurtured and promoted many young players to the first team.

Young Vivek Sagar Prasad emerged as a new hope for the country after scoring in the match against Belgium while debutant Raj Kumar Pal also made a mark with his incisive passing. Hardik Singh has also been in the spotlight with his impressive play under the Australian coach.

“During our conversation with the players, we have told them that we are pressing the reset button,” Graham Reid was quoted by the IANS agency.

“So, if the younger players hadn't got enough opportunities earlier, this period gives them a chance to put their best foot forward.

"It'll be a matter of how everyone restarts and showing that they can get back into the form that they were in before the lockdown,” Reid, a 1992 Olympics silver-medallist, added.

Regaining form will take time

After spending more than two months at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Bengaluru due to the lockdown, the hockey players finally left for their homes last month.

Apart from men's team goalkeeper Suraj Karkera and women's team trio of Vandana Katariya, Sushila Chanu, and Lalremsiami, all other Indian hockey players have been given a month’s break.

While the players haven’t been away from regular training in the last few months, Graham Reid believes that regaining competitive form will take time.

"The standard is that when a player is away from the game for a certain length of time then the player takes around the same length of time to get back into his form," he said.

"It's going to be a long process and the last thing we want is the process being slowed down due to injuries. We are taking it easy at the moment and we have time,” Reid said.