The Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Wednesday announced that the Indian men’s and women’s teams would resume their training from August 19 (Wednesday) after all the national probably complete their 14-day quarantine period. After having had detailed discussions with all stakeholders, including the Chief Coaches and core problems of both the teams, besides according to the utmost priority to the safety and well-being of all the athletes, it has been decided that the sporting activities will be resumed at SAI’s National Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru, as scheduled earlier.
Amid growing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary to have detailed discussions with all stakeholders of both the teams, that resulted in having their consensus on the resumption of sports activities from August 19 onwards while maintaining proper social distancing norms and other guidelines in the SAI SOP.
There was some criticism in some quarters over the decision to resume training with six players testing positive. Those opposed to the resumption of training held that India has no international engagements ahead and should have allowed players to train at home by focussing on physical fitness, mental fitness, and basic skills. However, the SAI took the decision after consulting all parties.
The Indian women’s team’s Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne said he has received a very positive response from his team. Speaking on the announcement by SAI, Marijne said, “I say it on behalf of the whole squad that we are very happy to be back at the national camp and resuming sports activities by following all the protocols, and feeling safe. Having spoken to all the players about the resumption, I have received a positive response from each of them. We look forward to working hard on the team’s fitness in this protected environment.”
Meanwhile, Graham Reid, Chief Coach Indian men’s team said, “Following a detailed discussion with all our players and members of the support staff, I am delighted that we will be resuming sports activities here at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru. It is good to know that everyone is eager while making sure their health and wellbeing is our collective priority. We are also in constant touch with the six players who have tested positive for COVID 19. They are in good spirits and are looking forward to a quick recovery. Once recovered and after following the protocol of quarantine, we look forward to having them back with us.”
Speaking about the decision, Captain (Indian Navy) A K Bahl, Senior Director, NCOE Bengaluru, said, “We are prepared to start sporting activities for the hockey teams. We will provide all logistical support required, as required by the chief coaches of both teams in accordance with SOPs, and ensure that the teams can train in a safe environment.”
Both the Indian men’s & women’s teams are currently at the SAI’s National Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru, where they are in quarantine for a 14-days period since their arrival on August 4.