India men’s hockey coach Graham Reid has said that their upcoming FIH Pro League matches in the next two months will provide them the best competition ahead of the much-awaited Tokyo Olympics.
The Men in Blue returned to action earlier this month in the European tour after a long layoff due to COVID-19. The PR Sreejesh-led India remained unbeaten during the tour, drubbing Germany 6-1 in the opener before playing out a 1-1 draw a few days later against the same opponent. They then shared the spoils with Great Britain in a 1-1 draw before capping off the tour with a 3-2 victory.
Currently, the 33 probables for the FIH Pro League are training at SAI Bengaluru for their upcoming clash against Argentina in Buenos Aires on April 10 and 11. The team will be announced next week according to a Hockey India spokesperson. India are slated to play as many as eight matches in May in the same tournament.
The national men's hockey coach Graham Reid is eagerly looking forward to those games as they will help gauge the team's level ahead of the Olympics.
“We play Argentina next and then Great Britain, Germany and Spain after that. So that will provide some really good and tough competition,” Reid told Sportskeeda in an exclusive chat.
“That’s what we need at this moment in terms of preparation and opportunities. These will also provide games under people’s belts as we get closer to the Tokyo Olympics," Reid added.
The European tour was refreshing for India: Reid
The Australian also said that the European tour was refreshing for the players after several months of house arrest. He thanked the organisers for the matches.
“One of the major takeaways from the European tour was that international competition is really important for us. I think it was fantastic for the players who got to go on the tour. One of the interesting parts of travelling these days is that it’s just the opposite of normal travel. As you probably know, Europe was in a fair state of lockdown when we were there. So we were very lucky that SAI, Hockey India and the German federation organised this tour. It was good refreshment of minds and bodies," Reid said.
Playing against top international teams provides an opportunity to learn about the technical aspects of the game. India too gained from their European tour as they got to see from close quarters how the opposition applied different skills. The learnings would help the Indian team further in their training sessions.
“The other thing that was quite beneficial from the European tour was seeing the different skills both Germany and Great Britain had. Every team has different skills, so it was nice to see them first hand and try to incorporate those back into our training,” the 56-year-old said.
Graham Reid also revealed that regular captain Manpreet Singh, who missed the European tour because of personal reasons, has returned to training.
“Manpreet is really a good captain and it’s good to have someone of that calibre back. He leads by example and is very competitive,” Reid concluded.