PR Sreejesh has asked Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to allow training to resume at the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru so as to help players deal with the various mental issues as well, apart from getting back to full fitness, that comes with being quarantined away from home for such a long time.
The men's and women's senior hockey team probables have been holed up at the Bengaluru campus since before the beginning of the first lockdown on March 25. On Thursday, Rijiju interacted with the players and coaches and sought their suggestions for resumption of training.
"It is important for us to be in top mental shape and if we start training it can help us refresh our minds and handle homesickness. Since there will be no events in the next few months, staying focussed on the game will be tough unless we start to train," said men's goalkeeper Sreejesh in the interaction.
Women's captain Rani Rampal said that the team feels safer at the campus than they would at home. "We are safer here than we would be even at home. I feel we can start training while following protocols of health and social distancing," she said.
"If we are able to start training on basic skills and specialised skills in small batches and work on other techniques like penalty corners, it will help the teams to make a start towards Olympic preparations," suggested men's captain Manpreet Singh
Rijiju said that training will restart only when the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) created by the committee instituted at the Sports Authority of India is implemented.
"We will resume practice soon but in a controlled manner. Those technicalities have to be drawn up by health experts in consultation with the coaches, federation officials and the government.
"I assure that we will extend all support to get our athletes back on the ground to train, but we must be careful. We cannot afford to risk the health of even one athlete because that will jeopordise the entire training plan.
"We must accept that in post Covid-era sports will not be played in the same way and we will have to adjust to the changes and move forward," he said.