The COVID-19 pandemic gave them a decisive time to play, but Olympic-bound hockey referees Haved Shaik and Raguprasad RV are determined to do their best despite “failures” over the past year.
Raghuprasad and Shaikh, who have experience in presiding over 100 international matches, are the only referees selected by India from the FIH to referee the Tokyo Olympics, which are due to open on July 23rd.
“The last time I judged in an international match was more than a year ago. Due to the pandemic, there were no tournaments and we were unable to travel for any outside tasks in the last few months,” Raguprasad told the Hockey Te Charcha podcast series. “.
“But that can’t be the reason I’m not performing my duties in Tokyo. We need to be on top of the job and make the right discouraging decisions,” he added.
The sheikh, who is based outside Mumbai, emphasized the challenges the duo faced before the Olympics.
“We have both served in the Olympics in the past. I was there in Rio (in 2016) and everything was very smooth, but this time it was obviously very different because of the pandemic and we had to change our plans due to a series of blockages in our respective cities.
“In a normal scenario, we would be on the hockey field, going through our training and fitness routine before a big tournament, the pandemic caused us several failures, but we had to find ways to deal with it and be prepared for the task,” Sheikh said.
The training of both employees includes watching videos from tournaments and analysis of the structure and tactics of the team.
“What helped during that time was Hockey India’s efforts to hold regular online sessions for hockey staff to discuss match scenarios and watch videos from various tournaments,” Raguprasad said.
“We also watched the recent European Championships and analyzed how the structure of the teams and the new tactics they use have changed,” he explained.
As the game gets faster and faster as the adjustment time is reduced to four-quarters of 15 minutes, the duo feel that fitness is vital.
“Hockey is really fast now. Unlike before, we have to be in front of the ball, and the players today are extremely fast, which is why FIH and Hockey India have their own guidelines and set standards in the gym,” said Raguprasad, who has served over 150 international matches, he said.
Armies undergo frequent fitness tests at least four times a year. Like the players, we also have Yo-Yo and Dal Monte Sprint Test. We need to complete 2200 mts in the Yo-Yo beep test and sprint 40 mts in less than six seconds. So in this sense, fitness is of paramount importance for us, the referees, “he added.