What's the story?
Indian men's hockey coach Graham Reid believes that the bright start to the year has built some much-needed self-belief within the Indian hockey team.
In case you didn't know
Both the Indian men's and women's hockey teams have had a bright start to the year 2020. The men's team started the year brilliantly by defeating a strong Netherlands team in both the matches of the FIH Pro League held at Bhubaneswar, Odisha. They followed this up with fighting performances against the World Champions Belgium and Australia at the same venue.
The Indian team won the first match against the Belgians but lost a close second encounter. Even though they lost the first game against Australia, they came back fighting to win the next game in a penalty shoot-out. The team is currently in the 4th position in the FIH Pro League standings just behind Australia on goal difference.
Checkout: Men's FIH Pro League Schedule
Even the Indian women's hockey team has had a good start to the year with a pretty successful five-match tour to New Zealand. After winning the first match against the New Zealand Development team 4-0, they lost two close matches to the New Zealand senior team by a margin of one goal in both the matches. But they bounced back to beat Great Britain 1-0 and followed it up by beating the home team by a convincing 3-0 margin to end the tour on a high.
Also Checkout: Women's FIH Pro League Schedule
The icing on the cake for the Indian team has been the 4 individual World level awards bagged by the star players of the Indian team this year. Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal, the Indian men's and women's team captains, won the "FIH Men's Player of the Year 2019" and "World Games Athlete of the Year 2019" awards respectively. Even the youngsters were not to be left behind with Vivek Sagar Prasad and Lalremsiami winning the "FIH Male Rising Star of the Year 2019" and "FIH Female Rising Star of the Year 2019" awards respectively.
Heart of the matter
The Indian men's hockey team is high on confidence after the brilliant performances they have been dishing out since the beginning of the year. The consistent performances have helped India rise up the charts in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Rankings and they are currently placed at an all-time high of No. 4 in the rankings.
The Indian men's hockey team's chief coach Graham Reid believes that the good results achieved by the team in the FIH Pro Hockey League have instilled the much-needed self-belief in the team.
“One of the takeaways from the matches we played at the FIH Pro League was that we have proven to ourselves that we can produce good results against the best teams in the world. It's a step forward in building self-belief"
Reid believes that although the Indian team has had a creditable start to the year, they should not be resting on their laurels but working on their deficiencies to improve their game. He expects the Indian team to show more consistency not only across matches but across quarters within the same match. The Australian does not want the Indian team to drop their guard at any stage as that would allow the opponents to strike back.
“We still need to be more consistent not only across matches but also across all quarters"
The Indian team is currently undergoing a camp before they embark for their away matches in the Pro Hockey League. Reid emphasised that skill training was the focus of the camp with specific attention being given on the attacking abilities.
“The camp will bring the focus back on our skill -- tackling, goal shooting, trapping. We also need to work on our attacking abilities, especially to move the ball from attacking 25 into the circle."
The coach added that the tour to Germany and England would allow the team to assess themselves before the all-important Tokyo Olympics 2020.
“After this camp, we will go to Germany and England to play against Germany and England which will help us further assess improvements required as we work toward the 2020 Olympics."
Although it has been a fine start to the year for the Indian men's hockey team, they would be keen to maintain this momentum in the upcoming away matches against Germany and England in the Pro Hockey League.
The end goal would definitely be to perform well at the biggest stage of all, the Tokyo Olympics 2020, and bring back the glory days of Indian hockey.
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