Indian men’s hockey team striker SV Sunil on Saturday expressed that the growth of the national teams, both men and women, over the past 10 years is the result of overall efforts from Hockey India and team management which has ensured a scientific approach is imbibed in the national program. He drew comparison to when he began his journey in international hockey in 2007 at the Asia Cup.
“It was very different when I came into the Senior India Team in 2007. A lot has changed in terms of how the National Team is managed now in comparison to 10-12 years ago. There is a lot more professionalism and accountability. Hockey India has ensured we have quality support system which is on par or better than other top nations and the planning of events and competition ensures we gain the right exposure before top tournaments. This systematic approach has definitely contributed to the team’s improvement over the years,” expressed Sunil who has been the cynosure of India’s forward line for over a decade.
The experienced forward emphasized that a two-way communication system in coaching has helped the team climb up the ranks in world hockey. He said, “Earlier, we would do what the Coach would say without questioning or without reasoning. But this has changed drastically over the years and there is a two-way communication approach where players are equally involved in planning training sessions. Senior players are also consulted by Hockey India, to ensure we are on the right track. I think these aspects have not only made the players as well as Support Staff more responsible and accountable but it has also largely helped in India’s climb up the World Rank to No.4.”
The Coorg-lad was particularly happy with the way things were handled during the lockdown and subsequently during the ongoing National Coaching Camp where the players have been closely monitored and a secure bio-bubble is created in SAI, Bengaluru. “We were particularly happy with the kind of care taken by Hockey India and SAI to ensure we have a safe environment in SAI. It is like a bio-bubble here with zero contact from outside and the Federation keeps a close check on every player’s well-being through constant communication with team’s Chief Coach,” stated Sunil.
The striker is confident both Hockey India and SAI will ensure the best preparation opportunities for the teams in the lead up to the Olympic Games next year. “While we are aware there may not be any competition at all this year barring select internal-matches, we are confident good tours will be planned early next year that will give us the right exposure before the Asian Champions Trophy and the FIH Hockey Pro League. We will need a good build up to the Olympic Games and we have been told a proposal has already been made by Hockey India and the Coaching Staff to SAI for our tours and we look forward to doing our bit also.” Sunil said.