Former coach Harendra Singh has advised the Tokyo-bound Indian men’s hockey team to stay away from social media to avoid distraction and wants the players to remember the sacrifices they made during the COVID-19 pandemic in their bid to finish on the podium at the forthcoming Olympics.
Several members of the Tokyo-bound men’s hockey squad, including Mandeep Singh, vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Nilkanata Sharma snd Sumit were part of the 2016 Junior World Cup-winning side, which was coached by Harendra.
“This time the competition in the Olympics would be different and tougher due to the pandemic. I would suggest them to stay away from social media and stay focussed.
“They must not forget that they have worked very hard for the Olympics. They have made sacrifices during COVID times and now it is the time to show what they are capable of. It has been a long due now," Harendra, who is currently coach of the USA men’s team, told PTI Bhasha.
The Tokyo Games will be held from July 23 to August under extra-ordinary circumstances in view of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
With the organisers barring spectators from attending the Tokyo Olympics due to the pandemic, Harendra feels it won’t be easy for the teams.
“It will not be easy to play in empty stadiums. But at the same time it will ease out pressure from young players who are making a debut in the Games. India will be benefitted as we have many debutants in the team," he said.
Harendra, who was also the coach of the senior India team from 2017-18, said India’s first target should be a place in the quarterfinals.
“Without thinking about medal right now, they should focus on quarterfinal first. For me it is the most important point. It is more important than semifinal or final."
Harendra has also lauded the efforts of players and coaches in making this team a formidable unit.
“Indian hockey is going in the right direction and every coach has contributed to it. It is the most formidable team since 2000 and I am sure that this team can win a medal in Tokyo. We have been waiting for over 4 decades now."
“These boys have tasted success at the junior level and they can emulate that at the highest level now. This team is a good mix of juniors and seniors and for the first time each and every player is capable of playing at any position," he said.
“During COVID times they have stayed together most of the time which resulted in team bonding."