Bhubaneswar: After Kalinga Stadium in Odisha capital opened its gates for elite athletes to train for Olympics, the cadets from the Hockey High-Performance Centre, the Nava Tata Hockey Academy Odisha, have resumed outdoor training at the stadium following the Standard Operating Procedures as laid down by the State and COVID-19 international guidelines for players laid down by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
Led by Head Coach, P. Laxminarayan, a team of 23 has been undergoing complete physical assessment and lab tests, performance management and analysis at Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre.
Speaking about this transition from pre to post COVID environment, Rajiv Seth, Project Director, NTHA, Odisha, shared, “Post the forced lockdown across the country, the players are excited to resume their sport. We ensure athletes strictly follow social distancing while interacting with fellow sportspersons, trainers and support staff, wear masks (when not training) wash hands and maintain personal hygiene. Their health is closely monitored for any flu-like symptoms. Thermal screening and sanitization of turf, prior to every session is undertaken. We have conducted a session to create awareness on the pandemic risk and COVID-19 local transmissions. Online coaching has also been adopted. Hockey being a contact sport, we have advised them against handshakes, hugging and hi-fives.”
Speaking about his team, Laxminarayan shared, “In this short span, since their induction, the players have shown marked improvement in their performance. The right amount of exposure and specialized coaching from national and international coaches has added to their game. They now play with a greater level of confidence. The Hockey tournaments held in the state and the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, in particular, gave them a chance to interact with the National Women’s team and has added to their inspiration. The downtime is almost over for us all and we are looking at focusing on strength and conditioning but in planned but slow manner to avoid injury to muscles. Training with hockey sticks will commence from the first week of July.”
Currently, the team is training in a small cluster of five as part of the guidelines. In the coming weeks additional 5 members of the HPC will rejoin the team, he further added.
Excitement shows on the players as they resume training with their co-players for few hours on the pitch. Sumi Maundari, who is from Panposh Sports Hostel, Rourkela, Odisha said, “It is exciting to be back on this blue turf, with my teammates and coaches. We miss our hockey sticks but we will start training with them soon. Nothing substitutes outdoor training. We have all missed this dearly and glad to resume training”