As an Indian hockey coach winning Olympic medals he is now transforming his junior team Hockey

In August, after reaching the Olympic podium for the first time in 41 years, members of the Indian hockey team won bronze medals at ceremonies, attended talk shows and also answered questions from Amitabha Bachchan at Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Meanwhile, the man who led the team to a medal in Tokyo is back on the drawing board. Graham Reid is now entrusted with another job: leading the Indian draws for the Junior World Championships.

Unlike the team led by Manpreet Singh – a schedule Reid has known for more than two years – the 57-year-old had only three months to meet younger players, break through the language barrier and incorporate his ideas into players ’minds and muscles. Expectations were high after he brought the country a medal in Tokyo.

Reid’s immediate focus, he says, was to be a “relationship coach.”

“Togetherness, keeping the team first … those kinds of values ​​are really important that I can add (quality) very quickly,” Reid said. The throw-in takes a little longer. I’m definitely a relationship coach, the relationship with each of these players is what really matters so that when the chips these things come to the fore. I’ve been working with them since I got back from Tokyo. You see them around camp, but you actually get to know them all, I understand them … I have to rely on (assistant coach BJ) Kariapp and some of the other older players (for English translation) to get to the points, “said Reid.

The junior and senior teams spent a lot of time together before and after the Olympics, playing each other’s training matches. While the draws were made to simulate the hockey styles of other teams to prepare a senior team for the Olympics, juniors in turn won by playing games within a team against a team that won Olympic medals, even beating them several times.

This practice was the idea of ​​Reid, who, while not working on creating connections with and within the junior team, taught them pressing.

“It was more the icing on the cake, not that we had to rebuild anything,” Reid said. We tried to incorporate (among juniors) the way we push in the senior group. It’s hard in time, but Kariappa spent a lot of time with the senior group during Covid so a lot of the exercises, drills, terminology we use in the senior group have already been transferred to juniors over the last 18 months. A lot of work has already been done as part of continuous development, ”Reid said.

For now, the exercises and training sessions seem to have succeeded, apart from India’s shocking defeat by France at the opening, and the hosts have achieved their first goal of qualifying for the World Cup quarter-finals for juniors. But the pressure and the real competition is starting now.

Having already achieved lofty status in Indian hockey in a short period of time and with India as a defending champion – even though it was the second generation to win the title in 2016 – it brings additional pressure for the Australian. But Reid has a different mantra; he forces the boys to put pressure on them to behave best.

“There is always pressure when you are the current champions in anything, and certainly the Junior World Cup is no exception. Expectations are always there, but five years in the junior cycle is long. But that still doesn’t detract from the fact that we are the current champions, ”Reid said. “Let’s hope people understand that this is a different team than it was five years ago. The expectations are really on us. “

Reid will stop working with the juniors after the World Cup, but will likely continue his association with some of them as they make their way into the senior lineup in the near future. The World Junior Championship is a great scouting field. Seven Indians who played in the 2016 Junior World Championship final in Lucknow against Belgium also won bronze five years later in Tokyo. Reid watches. Deputy captain Sanjay is currently the tournament’s second top scorer with eight goals – which includes two hat-tricks. His colleague Araijeet Singh Hundal is not far behind with five, including a hat-trick, while striker Sudeep Chirmako, who was a player of the match against Poland on Saturday, also made a stamp.

“It’s a good field to find players for the senior team. It’s an opportunity to see some of the exciting talent coming. I’m pretty excited about their looks. There are good talents here, “said Reid. “It’s always exciting when you’re dealing with new guys. This group will be a part of the future and it will, of course, determine how it will behave over the next year. ”

Next up is powerful Belgium on Wednesday in the rematch of the 2016 World Cup final in which India won 2-1. The European country is a benchmark in senior hockey, as it is the current world and Olympic champions. Domestic league hockey also held a player-ready tournament, unlike India.


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