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Reid & right for jr WC hockey stars  

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  Graham Reid has quietly been dotting the Is and crossing the Ts with the junior hockey team in Bhubaneswar. With the junior World Cup commencing in the city on November 24, the Australian, who will be present with the squad and oversee things alongside chief junior coach BJ Kariappa, has little time to chisel the team in his own image.

Even though he’s no stranger to a few of the players — with Covid halting regular stream of friendlies — the seniors played in a number of matches against the juniors while building up to the Olympics in Bengaluru (the seniors, who will shift base to Bhubaneswar in a week’s time to prepare for the Asian Champions Trophy in December, will play the juniors in a few games before the World Cup).  

So what’s the most that somebody like Reid can do? He hasn’t coached any of the U-21 boys for a period of time and unless they make the step up to the senior side, he may not coach them again. So what’s the thing the 57-year-old believes he can do over the next three weeks or so. 

More than working on their technical aspects, he wants to instill in them values that will keep the players in good stead. When he says values, he’s referring to the structures that’s visible throughout the senior squad. “Now for me, it’s about putting the icing on the cake, trying to instil some of the values that we have in the senior team, the structures that are put in place,” he said during a press conference on Friday.  “In the last month, I have been a relationship coach… you know, having relationships with each of the players is really vital so that when the chips are down these things can come to the fore.” 

The relationships Reid forms with these players could be important because the junior World Cup comes at a pivotal time. Even though the senior side won bronze at the Olympics, they are entering a transition phase. A couple of players have already retired while a few others on the wrong side of 30 are entering the November of their careers. To ensure there is a conveyor belt replacing the senior players, tournaments like this help in identifying the next generation.

But Reid didn’t look that ahead, he preferred to focus on handling pressure. “There is already enough pressure. When you are the reigning champions, there is already some extra pressure. But what people would understand is that it’s a completely different team than what we had four years ago. We have to make sure we trust each other’s preparation and that’s what we will be doing.” 
 

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