Indian men's hockey team head coach Graham Reid that the adversity and resilience faced together by the players was responsible for the historic bronze medal win at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After a 41-year medal drought, the Indian team finally scripted a podium finish at the Games.
Indian Men’s Hockey Team Chief Coach Graham Reid is no stranger to success on the Olympic stage, having won the Silver medal as a player for Australia in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. However, clinching an Olympic Bronze medal as the Chief Coach of the Indian Men’s Team after a 41-year long wait for India ranks amongst his most impressive achievements. Reid spoke at length about the challenges and the process that led to this remarkable feat in an insightful conversation on Hockey Te Charcha; a podcast series initiated by Hockey India.
The Indian Men’s Hockey Team’s schedule was adversely affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the extended period of time that the team spent together in camp at SAI Bengaluru eventually brought the team closer together and shaped their character as a group, believes Chief Coach Graham Reid.
“I kept saying to the team that the adversity and the resilience that they have shared together will come to the fore and unite them when the chips are down. You just have to look at the Bronze medal match and see that when we were 1-3 down, it would have been very easy to give up and admit that it’s not our day, but we didn’t do that. We pulled ourselves together, and displayed a magnificent example of fighting back and taking the next step from that position one at a time,” said Reid.
On the road to winning the Olympic Bronze Medal, the 1-3 deficit in the Bronze medal match against Germany was not the only challenge that the Indian Men’s team had to overcome in the competition. India faced a setback in the second match of the tournament when they lost 1-7 to Australia. Chief Coach Graham Reid spoke about the process involved in coming back from this defeat.
He said, “Since day one, I have tried to instil a ‘next thing mentality’ in the team. After facing a disappointing result, you cannot get caught up thinking about what you could have done. The next thing that you need to do is the most important. Like I say, you can change the future, but you cannot change the past. So after the disappointing result against Australia, we drew a line in the sand before getting to the Olympic village and decided not to ponder on the result any longer. We focussed on the things we needed to improve from our end, and thankfully the group reacted very well to that approach as well. Our full focus was on putting together a good run of results from that point on, and that’s exactly what we managed to do.”
Speaking on the roadmap ahead and the next steps following the Tokyo Olympics, Reid said, “We have set some milestones in terms of the competitions that are coming up for us now. We have the Asian Games, FIH Pro League, Commonwealth Games, The FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in the beginning of 2023, and then the Paris Olympics the following year. So the milestones have been set, but how we need to prepare between those milestones will be decided in the next month or so. We also have to sit down and analyse all the games from the Olympics and see what the other teams have been doing, because you never get the time to do that in the middle of a tournament, when the focus is limited only on the next opponent. We also need to get feedback from our players on what they feel are the skills that they need to work on going forward, and surely we need to accelerate our learning to be consistently up there with the best teams in the world all the time.”