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Covid-19 pandemic halted the preparations 2020 Womens Hockey Junior Asia Cup

Posted Date :   04 July 2020 01:49:30 AM  
Imphal (Manipur): The Junior Indian Women's Hockey Team were preparing for the 2020 
Women's Hockey Junior Asia Cup, which was to begin on April 6, 2020 in Kakamigahara, 
Japan, when Covid-19 pandemic halted the team's quest to achieve a berth for the 
Junior Women's World Cup by winning the continental championship.
"We were in the national coaching camp since first week of March and we were very 
focused on performing well at the Junior Asia Cup, which would have got us direct 
qualification into the FIH Junior World Cup 2021 to be held in South Africa. But the 
Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown halted our preparations," said Suman 
Devi Thoudam, who successfully led the Indian Junior Women's Hockey team in the 
Cantor Fitzgerald U21 International 4-Nations Tournament and the Belarus Tour last 
Instrumental in the team's winning performance at the 3-Nations Tournament in 
Australia held in December last year, Suman added, "We had shaped up well as a team 
and with some good performances last year, we were quite confident of a good show in 
the Junior Asia Cup in Japan."
With the National Camp for Junior Women ending on 19 March, Suman's compatriots 
left for home however she decided to stay back in SAI, Bengaluru where the Senior 
Core Probables Group were housed. "My tickets were booked for 22 March but due to 
the Janta Curfew I couldn't travel. Though my tickets were rebooked for 24 March, I 
decided to stay back in SAI because I felt it was safer there and there was a lot of 
uncertainty at the time," she said.
On asked how a young player like her faced the challenges of staying indoors during the 
nation-wide lockdown, she said, "At first, I was scared and felt that there was so much 
uncertainty. Myself and three others who were going through rehab due to their injury 
were the only ones from the Junior Team who had stayed back in SAI during this period 
(lockdown) and it probably would have been difficult if not for the constant support from 
senior players and Wayne Lombard (Scientific Advisor). I focused on core strengthening 
workouts which could be done indoors and some conditioning work which Wayne used 
to give us. Also, he would tell us that it's important to improve our immunity and stay fit 
to fight this pandemic which made us motivated through this period," Suman added.

Returning home after three months on 19 June, Suman was in institutional quarantine 
for 14 days as per State rules in Manipur and will further remain in home quarantine for 
another 14 days. "The institutional quarantine in Imphal was quite comfortable. There 
were about 7 students who were in quarantine along with myself and the facilities 
including the food, everything was good. Also the volunteers there were mostly from my 
home club where I began playing hockey, so they were quite helpful too. Now, I just look 
forward to spending time with my family," she said.
Suman began hockey at Seyo Club in 2010 due to the insistence of her father Thoudam 
Anand Singh who works as a carpenter in Imphal. Despite financial constraints, he 
always encouraged his daughter to make her own mark in the sport. In 2014, she was 
picked by the Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy where she further honed her skills as a 
player. Her first call-up for the Junior National Camp came in 2016 after which there 
has been no looking back for this young defender. "My father has been the biggest 
influence in my life. He has been extremely supportive and wherever I play in Manipur, 
he comes to watch me. At first, I never liked hockey but I was quick to make friends at 
the Seyo Club and when they said if I go regularly for practice, I would be given a stick 
and a ball for myself, I was motivated to continue. Getting my own stick was like the 
biggest incentive for me at that time," she recalled.   
While the Junior team awaits to receive a call-up to return to SAI Centre Bangalore, 
Suman is confident her team can bounce back after this setback in their preparations. 
"There is a lot of openness in the team where we discuss our strengths and 
weaknesses and each of us have improved individually as well as a team over these 
past years. When we are called back, we will refocus on our goal to do well at the Junior 
Asia Cup," she concluded. 

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