In a first-of-its-kind, Special Congress via video conference was held by Hockey India with its State Associations on Wednesday to chalk out the roadmap for Mission 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Hockey India engaged its Executive Board Members and State Member Units invaluable discussions to pave the way forward and re-start the sport at a state and national level following the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
As a first step towards resuming activities depending on permissions provided by Government of India and State Governments, Hockey India has issued a 20-page dossier to its Member Units which provides a minimum standard that needs to be followed when hockey activities resume in their respective states. The new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) includes educating the athletes, sanitising the entire facility prior to any event as well as encouraging all participants to share their details not just with organisers but also with health authorities.
The guidelines also include pre-event, during event and post-event protocols to follow. It also covers important procedures to follow when teams have to travel for domestic competition. Additionally, foreseeing the new social norms that could last upto 12-18 months, Hockey India proposed to update the Constitution with a provision to allow video conference meetings as official meetings with minutes to be signed by the chairman of the meeting.
Mission 2021 for Indian Hockey Teams:
While Hockey India High Performance Director David John highlighted the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on preparations for the Tokyo Olympics Games and expressed that a detailed SOP has been submitted to SAI in April 2020 for all national athletes, a calendar of matches and Tournaments has been planned for all four teams (Senior and Junior) for 2021.
Currently, the Senior Men's team have 10 FIH Hockey Pro League matches to be played to fulfil their commitments from the 2020 season. Apart from two matches versus New Zealand in India, the remaining 8 matches are scheduled to be played in Germany, Great Britain, Argentina and Spain.
The Indian Women's team will need to finalise overseas Tours to countries that have relaxed their travel restrictions and provide a high level of competition such as Netherlands, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It would be ideal for the team to play around 10 – 14 competitive matches against above opposition prior to Tokyo Olympic Games
Depending on the situation, the Indian Men and Women's teams will play the Asian Champions Trophy organised by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) prior to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that will provide exposure. The National Camps and International exposures for the Senior Men and Senior Women teams has been scheduled according to FIH Calendar and will be submitted in the ACTC for 2020/21 once FIH and AHF finalise their dates.
"A number of key decisions were made today during the special Congress and we thank Indian Olympic Association President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra for joining us and providing his expertise and insights. The main agenda for today was to discuss the Indian teams preparations for the Olympics in 2021 and how best we can emerge from the Covid-19 situation which has impacted the sport quite severely. We also had very detailed discussion on the restructured Hockey India National Championships in 2021 and have finalised the host venues for the tournaments. Besides other key agendas, we have also decided that Registration process for tournament officials/ Coaches on the Hockey India Member Unit Portal will begin from 1 July 2020. I thank all State Member Units for joining us on the video conference today," expressed Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, President, Hockey India.
Congratulating Hockey India for taking proactive measures to ensure swift resumption of the sport in the country basis GOI approvals, Indian Olympic Association President, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra said, "It is nice to see Hockey India arrange this meeting with their State Member Units. It is important to make progress during this period and I am happy to see the Federation being active on a number of fronts especially in this period."
He further stated, "I appreciate Hockey India and all its member units for contributing to the PM Relief Fund, their respective State Governments, and for supporting the Indian Women Hockey Team on their initiative to raise fund. Congratulations on the restructuring of the National Championships from 2021, I am confident that this will be an important step for the sport. I have seen the document produced by Hockey India for Event Organisers and Member Units and provides great advice and recommendations for how to progress once governments allow sports to return. I agree that our athletes will be keen to take the field and play sports again, however it is also important that we all take the time to ensure due diligence as much as possible. A thank you to all the various stakeholders in Hockey India who have completed the IOA survey."