'High-altitude' camp kicks off at Balewadi

Michael Nobbs

The camp with 26 players will be held until November 20 in order to help the team prepare for the Champions Challenge tournament (November 26-December 4) that will played in Johannesburg -- a city located 1,753 metres above sea level. “The training kicked off really well today,” said coach Michael Nobbs. “As you might be aware, Johannesburg is a high altitude place and playing in such places is not easy, especially a physically demanding game like hockey.

“The high-altitude chamber (which simulate conditions similar to the air in Johannesburg) will see two players at a time. The players will do a lot of running and cycling for an hour. The chamber will be in use for around 12 hours a day. We thought this exercise would help a little, although 10 days is not enough. However, something is better than nothing,” added the coach.

The ones missing out from the camp are Rajpal Singh, Bharat Chikkara and Ignace Tirkey. While forward Rajpal, who underwent an appendix surgery midway during the Australian tour last month, has been advised six weeks rest, Chikkara and Tirkey are out with injuries.

Interestingly, the squad for the Champions Challenge was picked during the tour of Down Under and Nobbs felt it was the need of the hour. “A team of 18 for Champions Challenge was selected in Australia. We couldn't have the selection trials at this camp as there was very less time as we had to process the visas. Had we picked the team now there would have been no chance of visa to South Africa.”

The squad, which is yet to be announced by Hockey India, will leave for Johannesburg on Nov 21.

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