Working as India’s relationship coach for FIH Junior World Cup: Graham Reid

After guiding India to a historic Olympic bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Graham Reid has worked in tandem with junior coach BJ Kariappa at SAI Bangalore before shifting base to Bhubaneswar.

Overseeing India’s preparation for the upcoming FIH Junior World Cup, senior hockey team’s chief coach Graham Reid called himself a “relationship coach” who is only here to put “icing on the cake” to the side’s title defence.

India, who won the last edition of the Junior World Cup in Lucknow in 2016, will start their campaign from pool B, taking on France on the opening day here on November 24.

After guiding India to a historic Olympic bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Reid has worked in tandem with junior coach BJ Kariappa at SAI Bangalore before shifting base to Bhubaneswar.

“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.

“It’s more icing on the cake rather than having to rebuild anything,” Reid, who coached the senior team to a historic bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, said in a virtual media conference.

“To be honest, in the last month, I’ve definitely been a relationship coach… You know, having (good) relationships with each of the players is really important so that when the chips are down those things can come to the fore.”

Hit by the pandemic, the colts have been robbed of any overseas tour so the only preparation they had was to take on the senior team before the Olympics.

“If you recall before going to Tokyo, they had practice games against senior boys which was valuable for both the teams.”

Reid said the senior camp would now be shifted to Bhubaneswar within a week so that the junior can have more practice matches.

The 18-member junior team will be led by Vivek Sagar Prasad, who was a member of the bronze medal winning Olympics team.

Asked whether there would be added pressure, especially after their Tokyo achievement, the 57-year-old Aussie great said: “I don’t think so. 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.”

The defending champions are in an easy pool with France, Canada and Poland.

“I don’t like to talk about other teams because it comes back to bite you. It doesn’t matter whom you play, you should always play good games. The tournament concludes on December 5.

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