Bengaluru: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi having announced that the nationwide lockdown will be extended till May 3, the Indian men’s hockey team’s experienced forward SV Sunil believes that this period will further help his side in improving as a collective unit.

“We were all expecting the lockdown period to be extended, and it is justified given the extent of the damage that the (coronavirus) pandemic has been causing not just in India, but around the world,” said Sunil on Thursday (April 16).

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“We have been staying here at the SAI Centre Bengaluru for the past month and a half, and I think spending more time with our teammates and coaching staff has really brought the group together. We have also been working on analysing our performances from the past couple of seasons, and we have been doing a lot of self-analysis as well, which I am sure will help us in improving a lot before we set foot on the pitch again,” he added.

Sunil, whose wife Nisha, and their one-year old daughter Shanvita, are put up just 20 km from SAI Centre, Bengaluru, expresses his desire of being with his family but also understands that it is the right decision to not wander outside given the situation.

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“Most of the players here in the camp would have loved to be with their families, and even though my family doesn’t stay very far from here, my wife and I decided that it was in the best interest of our family that we stay put where we are, and follow the guidelines strictly. I do miss my wife and daughter, but these are trying circumstances and we just have to take the positives out of it, and continue adjusting to it,” he said.

Reflecting on the current pandemic and the health hazards that it is posing to people around the world, Sunil said these are the times which test one’s resolve. 

“I remember when I have had the two injuries before, once in 2010 and in 2018, it was always really tough for me because I had missed the World Cups on both the occasions and that long journey back from injury was really depressing at times. But when you compare that to the circumstances that so many people around the world are facing now, you realise how lucky you are to only have injured your left fibula or had a LCL Grade 3 tear, and not had a life-threatening experience. I really hope everyone is taking the correct precautions and that we can all come together as a society during these times, and can really pass this test with flying colours as soon as possible,” he said.

Sunil, who turns 31 early next month, also reacted on the Olympic Games being postponed to 2021, “We have spent these four years building up to the Olympics, and working hard to peak at that time, but obviously now we all have to make adjustments, for which we are ready. There is still a long way to go now, which means that we all have a lot of time to prepare for it and to improve with every challenge that we take on from herein,” he opined.

“It has been a few days since I've made that run on the flanks and put a ball into the striking circle, so I really hope that things can go back to normal very quickly for everyone to do what they love doing, which includes me stepping foot on the pitch again soon,” Sunil signed off.