Commonwealth Games 2022 hockey teams touted to have good mix of young and experienced players

A file photo of the Indian men's hockey team. (PC: Hockey India)
A file photo of the Indian men's hockey team. (PC: Hockey India)

The Indian senior men's and women's hockey teams for the upcoming Commonwealth Games are expected to have a good mix of young and experienced players.

Earlier, Hockey India had confirmed that reserve teams would be playing in the Commonwealth Games and that the senior team would only take part in the Asian Games. The reason was the short turn around time between the two flagship events.

The importance given to the Asian Games is understandable as a gold medal in the continental tournament will ensure a direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Read: Asia Cup 2022: With focus on the future, Indian hockey team on a learning curve

However, the postponment of the Asian Games in China now means the Commonwealth Games takes centrestage.

Sources privy to Hockey India opined that the Birmingham Commonwealth Games presents a good chance for the think-tank to mix youth and experience.

They can come up with a team comprising both experienced players and the promising youngsters from the reserve team, currently playing in the Asia Cup in Jakarta.

One source in the know told Sportskeeda:

"By selecting a team of both experienced and young players, it would create a good pool of players who have played the sport at the highest level, under every possible pressure situation with good game knowledge."

Another source told Sportskeeda that the inputs of chief coaches Graham Reid and Janneke Schopman are also vital. The coaches are a part of the team selection process and it would also be important to understand how the coaches want the future pool to shape up.

Also read: Paris Olympics qualifiers to be held independently if Asian Games is postponed beyond September 2023

"The coaches are the ones with first-hand knowledge about the teams. They are with the players every day and it is important for the Federation to understand what kind of team the coaches want for the Commonwealth Games."

Commonwealth Games in focus for Indian hockey teams now

While the spotlight is now on the Commonwealth Games, the Indian teams must ensure they stay in shape until the postponed Asian Games.

The teams have the experience of playing in postponed tournaments - the Tokyo Olympics for example. They returned an excellent performance that brought the focus of the nation back to the national sport.

Both the men's and the women's teams have grown from strength to strength under Graham Reid and Janneke Schopman. The national camps at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Center in Bengaluru have been top-notch, helping the players in their quest to become the best in business.

With the Asian Games scheduled for 2023 and the Paris Olympics just a year later, the form of the Indian teams must be constantly on the rise. A good reserve talent pool, with enough experience of playing at the highest level, is a priority for the think-tank.

Also read: Technical officer Sonia Bathla looking forward to 2022 Commonwealth Games

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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