The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown hampered our 2021 World Cup qualifying prospects, Indian junior women's hockey team skipper Suman Devi Thoudam said on Thursday.
The Indian girls were hoping to book their FIH Junior Women's World Cup ticket through the 2020 Women's Junior Asia Cup, which was to be held in Kakamigahara, Japan, from April 6, but was cancelled because of the pandemic.
"We were in the National coaching camp from the first week of March and we were very focused on performing well at the Junior Asia Cup which would have got us direct qualification into the FIH Junior World Cup 2021 to be held in South Africa. But the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown halted our preparations," said Suman from her home.
"We had shaped up well as a team and with some good performances last year, we were quite confident of a good show in the Junior Asia Cup in Japan."
While all her teammates left for home after the junior camp ended on March 19, Suman decided to stay back at the SAI centre in Bengaluru with the senior sides and was stuck there for more than two and half months because of the nationwide lockdown.
"My tickets were booked for March 22 but due to the janta curfew I couldn't travel. Though my tickets were rebooked for March 24, I decided to stay back in SAI because I felt it was safer there and there was a lot of uncertainty at the time," she said.
Asked how she coped with being confined to her room during the lockdown phase, Suman said, "At first, I was scared and felt that there was so much uncertainty.
"It probably would have been difficult if not for the constant support from senior players and Wayne Lombard (scientific advisor). I focused on core strengthening workouts which could be done indoors and some conditioning work which Wayne used to give us."
Suman finally returned to her home on June 19 and is presently in institutional quarantine for 14 days as per Manipur government's guidelines.
"The institutional quarantine in Imphal was quite comfortable. There are about 7 students who are in quarantine along with me and the facilities including the food, everything is good. Now, I am just look forward to spending time with my family," she said.