A day after this interview, Reid’s boys made a dream return to the pitch.
A 6-1 win over Germany did way more than just settle nerves. Many believe that had the Tokyo Olympics happened on schedule last year, India had the best chance to return to the Olympic podium. This win keeps that belief alive.
A lot of effort went into India getting their first game after a year; and though a 17-day Europe tour will give India just four matches, Reid isn’t complaining, especially with a packed Pro League schedule lined up from April 10 onwards.
Excerpts from the interview with Graham Reid….
How difficult was it to put this tour together? Four games through 17 days sounds like you want to ease into things…
When you are trying to organise a tour like this, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was designed to have four games; it’s just how it ended up [being scheduled]. The Dutch had to cancel our involvement [in the Netherlands]. The Belgians also weren’t available during this particular period. So it kind of came down to who was available, and we had to take what we could get.
But we are getting good opportunities. We are also training again with the Germans. So we are getting other opportunities here as well, which is making it worthwhile.
After a barren year, you will be almost flooded with games — from Argentina in April to a fully-packed May. That’s a huge change after a long break. What will it take to handle that?
Once it started, this year was already going to be quite full. Physically, the boys have been prepared well for this tour and the subsequent matches coming up. It’s just that we need competition and that’s what’s going to happen. This European tour will ease the boys into it and then we will really get going when Argentina [fixture] starts.
(India hammered Germany 6-1 in their first match of the ongoing Europe tour – Photo by HI Twitter)
It’s still winter in Germany, which can leave bodies cold quickly and prone to injuries, especially going there from the Indian weather. How have you planned to manage the workload?
Touchwood, it’s not perhaps as cold as it was when we were originally looking at this tour. So that’s a positive. One of the advantages of the rotation system that we play means that workload is shared throughout the squad. With 22 players over four games, workload is definitely something we are aware of.
We have seen other sports and seen the effects that lockdown and quarantine has had on the athletes. So we were very aware of it and we are planning on utilising the systems we already have in place. So it should be fine.
What are the things that you worked on in camps over almost a year that you would want to see in these games against Germany and Great Britain?
We have been doing a lot of work on attacking and defensive transitions. In layman terms, that just means when we win the ball, what are our objectives and what we are trying to achieve. Also, what we are trying to achieve when we lose the ball, what are the important principles. We have been doing a lot of work on that, and now it’s time to put those into practice.
German coach Kais Al Saadi told TimesofIndia.com that “India are among the teams closest to a medal in Tokyo.” What’s your take on that?
I think that’s nice of Kais [Al Saadi] to say that. At the end of the day, it will be up to us as to what our real opportunities and chances are at the Olympic Games. That’s what we have to take into our own hands, and what we do over the next three or four months will determine that. But we are really focussed on the process, not worrying about the outcome.
I don’t like talking about whether we are going to win this game or that game. If we can do what we can about trying to play as well as we can, as often as we can, then the results will look after themselves.