FIH Pro League ideal preparation for Olympics, says coach Graham Reid

India will restart their FIH Pro League campaign in April next year and end in May, two months before the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin.

By Subhayan Dutta

Indian men’s hockey team Australian coach Graham Reid believes the scheduling of India’s FIH Pro League matches next year will help the team build-up to a competitive level ahead of the Olympic Games.

The FIH Pro League is set to return in September although India’s first fixture has been scheduled between May and April next year. But it works perfectly for Graham Reid’s men, who open their Tokyo Games campaign in July.

"It's very encouraging to have international competition restarting and the FIH Pro League will give us that tough top-level competition as a lead-up to the Olympic Games next year," Graham Reid told Hockey India.

Graham Reid believes FIH Pro League will be good warm-up for Tokyo Olympics

The Indian hockey players were confined to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru for over two months amid the lockdown. There they managed to keep themselves physically fit but practice matches had been off-limits.

While the Indian hockey players are currently enjoying a month-long break, they will soon return for a hectic end to the calendar year.

Before the FIH Pro League campaign restarts, the Indian men’s hockey team will have its hands full with numerous tournaments planned away from home.

“We have the Asian Champions Trophy still planned for November 2020 and a trip to Malaysia to play the Netherlands,” Graham Reid pointed out. “And a 4 Nations Tournament in New Zealand in February 2021, which are all in the planning stage at the moment as part of our ACTC."

Perfect test in perfect conditions

After an impressive start to their maiden FIH Pro League campaign on the home soil, where Manpreet Singh and Co. registered wins over Netherlands, Belgium and Australia, their next set of matches are on the road.

After facing Argentina away on April 10 and 11 next year, India will travel to the UK to face Great Britain on May 8 and 9, before moving to Spain on May 12 and 13. Their away campaign ends with matches against Germany on May 18 and 19, before hosting New Zealand at home on May 29 and 30.

And skipper Manpreet Singh believes that the near-perfect weather conditions in Europe and South America next summer will help the team’s cause as well.

"I think the weather in Europe in April and May would be ideal for us as the winter months would have ended,” Manpreet Singh reckoned.

“April in Argentina is also supposed to have the best weather to play hockey and it won't be hot and humid," he added.

Apart from the weather, Manpreet Singh also believes that the intense frequency of the FIH Pro League matches will be the perfect mental and psychological test for the players before the Tokyo Summer Games.

“I feel after the four-week gap between our matches against Argentina and Great Britain, we will play back-to-back matches almost every weekend right until the end of May and that's the kind of momentum we are looking for ahead of the Olympic Games,” Manpreet Singh pointed out.