Image Credits: @HockeyIndia

  • Dec
  • 28

Life during COVID-19: Hockey India steadies ship with top-notch usage of virtual initiatives in 2020

Author Image Press Release

With the pandemic having disrupted normalcy throughout the sporting industry, Hockey India undertook various initiatives during the year to keep players, coaches, officials, employees and fans interested.

The year 2020 had started with a bang for Indian National Hockey teams, with the Indian Men's Hockey team climbing up to their best-ever ranking of fourth in the FIH World Rankings after delivering impressive performances in their debut FIH Hockey Pro League campaign, and the Indian Women's Hockey Team setting their sights on the Tokyo Olympics with some handy matches against New Zealand and Great Britain in January-February. However, with the ill-timed advent of COVID-19 around the world, the sporting fraternity would also end up suffering noticeable setbacks, with the biggest sports event - the Olympic Games - also getting postponed to next year. 

 

Not letting the setback hamper their plans, Hockey India turned to technology to conduct various initiatives and showcased resourcefulness to effectively bring back normalcy to the lives of its players, coaches, officials, employees and fans across the country by making effective use of technology, staying connected through social media platforms, video conferencing applications, organizing coaching courses and addressing each situation with a proactive approach. 

 

Proactive approach: 

  • The first of many of the governing body’s proactive initiatives came with Hockey India working closely with the Chief Coaches of both Indian Men’s and Indian Women’s Hockey teams in order to work out a new suitable schedule for the teams after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee had jointly announced the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021. 
  • Hockey India in April 2020 also became the first federation to layout and share detailed SOPs and guidelines for resumption of sporting activities with all its Member Units with the intent to be well prepared and ready for a systematic rollout. 
  • In a landmark move, Hockey India also worked on a detailed plan, and announced in April 2020 the restructuring of the annual National Championships with the endeavor to maximize athlete participation & further develop hockey across the country, with effect from 2021. 
  • In May, Hockey India sent out Expression of Interest Form to various State Member Units, Institutional/ Department Members and Academies, and invited them to express their interest in hosting the restructured annual National Championships 2021 for State Member Units, and inaugural Inter-Department National Championship and Academy National Championship. 
  • A first-of-its-kind Special Congress was also organised by Hockey India via video conference in May 2020 as they engaged with its Executive Board Members and State Member Units in valuable discussions to pave the way forward to restart the sport at state and national level following the Covid-19 pandemic situation. 
  • In May 2020, Hockey India decided to add more structure to the gradation of Hockey India Tournament Officials to help improve the standards of officiating, and in June 2020 further made modifications to the assessment of Officials Performance Report Templates including Tournament Officials and Umpires. 
  • June 2020 saw Hockey India make further improvements in the Hockey India Member Unit Portal with the introduction of an open application & registration process for Coaches and Technical Officials. 
  • Hockey India, in July 2020, additionally launched an open application submission system for registration of Coaches and Technical Officials. 
  • A proactive Hockey India Executive Board in August 2020 announced its immediate support through financial assistance to 61 athletes from across the senior and junior men and women core probable who were not employed, to ensure that they were able to again resume sporting activities. 
  • To further enhance the confidence of the State Units administration staff to resume sporting activities, Hockey India conducted an interactive session with Chief Coaches of the national teams and experienced national players; PR Sreejesh and Savita in September 2020, to further explain the micro-level precautions that needed to be followed while adhering to the Guidelines issued by Hockey India for a safe return to sporting activities. The interactive session held via Zoom platform was attended by the Hockey India Member Units & media, and the recording of which was further published on Hockey India's social media channels for the benefit of the general sporting community and the public at large. 
  • In an effort to digitalize as much as possible, Hockey India announced an annual grant for each of its permanent Member Units that establish their own official websites. 
  • The Governing Body for Hockey held its 10th Hockey India Congress & Elections in New Delhi in November 2020 for the posts of President and Senior Vice President.

 

Making effective use of technology: 

  • During the early days of the nation-wide lockdown period in April 2020, Hockey India and Sports Authority of India (SAI) collaborated to conduct 21-day online Coaches Development Sessions for Hockey Coaches across the country. It was a move through which high level knowledge was provided through video conferencing, with Hockey India’s top coaches conducting the sessions for young coaches. 
  • Hockey India was also able to initiate interactive sessions through WhatsApp for Indian Umpires and Technical Officials in order to help in improving their officiating knowledge and enable them to motivate each other on fitness-related matters. 
  • A Hockey India Level 'Basic' Coaching Course was also conducted in May 2020 for the Indian Hockey Senior Core Probables who were stationed at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru. The Course saw a total of 32 Senior Men and 23 Senior Women Core Probables take part, the sessions of which were conducted online. 
  • A similar session underlining the knowledge imparted during the Coaching Course was also exclusively conducted for a group of journalists through Google Meet. 
  • The federation celebrated the 72nd Olympic Day digitally with its Member Units, with young children, players, coaches and administrative staff taking part in various activities while respecting the social distancing and safety guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and showcasing Olympic values during a week-long celebration. 
  • After the successful completion of several Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway courses in 2019 and 2020, Hockey India, in close association with the International Hockey Federation (FIH), also organized the FIH Academy - Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway Level '1' Coaching Course online for Indian Coaches. The sessions were conducted by FIH Educators over Microsoft Teams. 
  • In July 2020, Hockey India invited The Facilities and Quality Programme Manager at FIH, Alastair Cox to conduct a very productive Facilities workshop for Hockey India State Member Units through Microsoft Teams. 
  • Two more online workshops for all Hockey India registered Technical Delegates, Umpire Managers and Technical Officials were conducted to ensure standardization of assessment of Officials, and to ensure continuation in their development process. 
  • The months of July and August also saw Hockey India conduct specialized workshops for top level Indian Coaches who held a minimum of an FIH Level '1' Coach Certification. These workshops were organized online, and saw six foreign Coaches/experts conduct various sessions for the Indian Coaches in order to further enhance their knowledge and skills. 
  • Hockey India’s Coaches, Umpires and Staff were also a part of the AHF-organized spectacular online Indoor Hockey forum exclusively for experienced participants from across the Asian continent through the Microsoft Teams application in August 2020. 
  • Hockey India, with the support of the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) organized an AHF Online Education Workshop exclusively for the State Member Units of Hockey India in September 2020. A workshop on Event Planning and Management was conducted which helped the various candidates from the state member units to attain a much better understanding of the processes involved in hosting & management of hockey tournaments at the highest level. 
  • Hockey India exclusively organized a virtual walk-through of the Hockey India Member Unit Portal for a group of journalists through Google Meet in September 2020. 
  • In a bid to continuously improve the standard of coaching across the country, Hockey India conducted the Hockey India Level 'Basic' Coaching course (Online) for over 130 candidates from all 31 State Member Units in the months of September, October, November and December 2020 through the virtual medium and interested applicants were able to enroll via the open forum. 
  • Hockey India Coaches, Umpires and Technical Officials were able to gain knowledge through AHF’s excellently planned and executed Online Education Workshops which were held exclusively in the months of July, August, September, October, November and December 2020. 

 

Indian Women’s Hockey team’s noble virtual initiatives: 

  • The Indian Women’s Hockey Team in April 2020 launched an 18-day fun fitness challenge named “#Give100ForCOVID” which was aimed towards raising funds to help the poor and migrant families who had been affected due to the pandemic. The initiative saw the Indian team make use of an online crowd-funding platform, ketto.org, to encourage donations from people across the country, while also making use of Instagram to post their workout videos on a daily basis, which the public could view and try at their homes. At the end of the 18 days, the team was able to attract donations of over INR 20 lakhs, and also encourage people to follow a healthy lifestyle. 
  • The team was again involved with a noble initiative in October 2020, with the month being the breast cancer awareness month globally. Hockey India, along with non-profit organization Aaroogya for women cancer Research and Prevention, conducted a session via Zoom with the members of the Indian Women's Hockey Team which was about the early detection and prevention of breast, cervical and oral cancer. During the session, Aaroogya’s representatives expressed that the best way to prevent cancer is to lead a good lifestyle by regularly exercising and by following a healthy diet. They also lauded the Indian Women's Hockey Team for possessing the right representation of a good lifestyle. 

 

Staying in touch through social media: 

  • With the practice of social distancing being followed around the world, plenty of Hockey India athletes took to social media to remain in touch with their fans, friends and even family members. One such activity that encouraged mass participation through social media was when the Indian Women’s Hockey Team’s Forward Navjot Kaur was seen going LIVE with her team’s Scientific Advisor Wayne Lombard on Instagram, where the duo displayed the impressive fitness levels that the team is known for. 
  • A similar workout session was conducted by Indian Men’s Hockey Team’s Goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak, and Scientific Advisor Robin Arkell, which the fans were able to view and replicate in the comfort of their homes. 
  • The Indian Men's and Women's Hockey Teams players also engaged with hockey fans through a skills-challenge to celebrate the occasion of National Sports Day in August 2020. 

Tech-savvy Hockey Teams: 

  • The Indian Men and Women's Core Probable Group which were housed at the SAI Centre, Bengaluru for the majority of the lockdown period, were also seen turning to various applications to communicate within the group. 
  • Even though the Coaching Staff were also based out of the same facility, but to ensure social distancing norms, the teams turned to applications that helped in disseminating everyday workout schedules to all team members and emphasized on every player using these applications to submit their work load. 
  • Applications like Zoom and Google Meet ended up becoming the 'in-thing' replacing 'team huddles' and 'team meetings'. 

 

Please find attached images from the online session on cancer conducted by Hockey India and Aaroogya for women cancer Research and Prevention, Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway Level 'Basic' Coaching Course (Online) and of Hockey India Senior Vice President Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad (left) with Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam at the 10th Hockey India Congress held in New Delhi.

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